August 05, 2008

A Recap of Monday's "Phantom Session"

A bit more quiet than Friday's, perhaps, according to The Politico.

While Friday’s impromptu House session featured members jumping off airplanes and rushing back to the House floor in shorts and sandals to thunderous applause from the visitors’ galleries, it was a more subdued affair on Monday. Rep. Gresham Barrett (R-S.C.) opened with a prayer, and Republicans recited the Pledge of Allegiance. Then it was open season on Pelosi’s policies.

Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) delivered a speech next to a giant photo of Pelosi, with the words “I am trying to save the planet” underneath, tweaking the speaker for a comment she made in an interview with Politico. By refusing to hold a vote on domestic drilling because of environmental concerns, King said Pelosi has decided that “saving the planet is worth more than saving the Homo sapiens.”

“On Friday, Speaker Pelosi turned out the lights in the people’s House,” Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) told reporters. “Now we’re in the midst of the ‘Pelosi Shutdown.’ She’s shutting down the people’s House, and if we’re not careful, her energy policies will shut down the economic engine of America. Republicans are saying we will not allow that to happen.”

Price said Republicans “demand a vote on American energy for Americans,” a slogan he repeated over and over on the House floor as he acted as the unofficial master of ceremonies, introducing each member who rose to speak.

. . . . . . . . . . .

Rep. Frank R. Wolf (R-Va.) railed about the fact that the Cuban government “has given a lease to the Chinese” to conduct offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. Wolf pointed out that the Chinese have provided economic and military support to the government of Sudan . . . .

As they did on Friday, GOP members repeatedly encouraged the stray tourists brought onto the House floor to call Pelosi and demand a vote. “The squeaky wheel gets the grease,” Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) told the crowd. “It is time for you all to squeak.”

There were also some humorous moments. When the lights were turned up at 10:35 a.m. in the dimly lit chamber, about 30 minutes into the session, Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), who was speaking at the time, joked, “Someone must be drilling somewhere in America.” That remark brought laughs from the crowd and his colleagues.

By midday, House Republicans were vowing to continue their talkathon on the floor “as long as it takes,” claiming they would continue their protest indefinitely if Pelosi does not allow a vote soon.

“There are plans underway to be here into next week,” said Pence, one of the organizers of the protest. By noon Monday, 24 members were already back in Washington, and lawmakers said reinforcements were on the way.

Republican Rep. Peter J. Roskam of Illinois said he got the call on Sunday afternoon and drove through the night, pulling into the Capitol just before daybreak. “We loaded up the minivan just like the Griswolds,” said Roskam, referencing the classic Chevy Chase movie “National Lampoon’s Vacation.”

The floor protests did not originate with GOP leaders, but they have quickly jumped on the bandwagon. Minority Leader John A. Boehner of Ohio and Minority Whip Roy Blunt of Missouri, neither of whom is expected in Washington until Wednesday at least, used the episode to strengthen their standing among conservatives. Boehner, Blunt and other GOP leaders sent an “open letter” to Pelosi asking that she reconvene the House immediately for a vote.

Pelosi on Sunday dismissed the GOP floor protests as “the war dance of the handmaidens of the oil companies,” and senior Democratic aides repeatedly circulated charts showing that the Republicans on the floor had received millions of dollars in contributions from oil companies, their employees and lobbyists during their congressional careers.

“This Republican hoax is unworthy of the serious debate we must have to relieve the pain of consumers at the pump and to promote energy independence,” Pelosi said in a statement after she stepped out of the huge jet she had acquired use of when she began her stint as Speaker--the one big enough that it doesn't have to stop for refueling on its way back to the Golden State, and can carry more staffers than the little one she was originally offered.

I might have gotten that last paragraph slightly wrong; what can I say? It's late over here.

Posted by Attila Girl at August 5, 2008 03:26 AM | TrackBack

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