Thursday, July 24, 2008

House Tries to Move Energy Legislation

Michael Franc over at NRO has a good piece on how a number of Congressional House members are taking action after beginning to feel the heat from their constituents over gas prices. A small but growing rebellion is underway against the wicked witch, Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi. House Republicans are attempting to execute a discharge petition on pro-drilling energy legislation, but need to pick up some of the more conservative Democrats' votes in the process. Franc explains the strategy:

"A discharge petition is a procedural way for disgruntled members to release a bill from legislative limbo and force the entire House to consider it. Should a majority of members (218) sign one, the legislation in question is “discharged” from the committee of jurisdiction and brought immediately to the floor, debated, and voted on. Short of actual floor votes, signing a discharge petition is the most powerful (and potentially meaningful) tool available to a besieged legislative minority.

Not surprisingly, discharge petitions rarely attract the required 218 signatures. House speakers and majority leaders view them the same way vampires view crosses. When members of the majority party sign one, it’s viewed as an act of betrayal worthy of harsh disciplinary measures and a guaranteed end to that member’s advancement in the House.

Quietly, in recent weeks House Republican leaders have adopted precisely this strategy. Rank-and-file Republicans have been filing one discharge petition per week (five thus far), demanding floor action on a far-reaching energy agenda."

The movement has attracted as many as 153 (including one Democratic) vote, with as many as 75-100 more members possible. This count has been tabulated by including members that have publicly supported more energy exploraiton legislation in the past, including as many as 40 Democrats. Let's hope at least one of these efforts succeeeds soon. At stake is an agenda that includes drilling in the ANWR, offshore, constructing new oil refinieries, and opening up unconventional oil sources such as oil shale and coal liquification.

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