We went in via the Republican Cloakroom where I had to leave my purse. The cloakroom is pretty small, with chairs lined up against the wall for half the room, a couple of computers labeled "for member use only," 2 tvs and a kitchenette. First person I saw upon entering: Robert Bluey! Great to meet him.
Got to the floor around 12:45pm and sat on the right side of the aisle (which was packed) while Rep. David Davis (R-TN) was wrapping up. There was a sign on a podium next to him that said, "NANCY PELOSI, WE'RE HERE, WHERE ARE YOU?"
Next up was Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.) who has done great work on this issue (see him knocking on the door to the Dem cloak room demanding a vote here).
From my notes - no tape recorder and I had some trouble writing fast enough so it may not be 100% accurate:
- He told the audience Montana is the "energy warehouse of America" and they want the ability to use it. He wants "American solutions" so we "dont have to rely on our enemies."
- Congress shouldn't be able to "pick [energy] winners and losers or we're all losers"
- Montana has 4.3 million barrels of oil (?) but we "need pipelines and refineries" to make use of it, while we've "let Canada take over our energy production," we need to "develop our own American solutions"
- American Energy Act - conservation, technology, alternatives, AND fossil fuels
- Democrats say the House Republicans are grandstanding, but "if I have to grandstand to draw attention to a problem they refuse to solve" he will
- Pelosi isn't here, would "rather be at a book signing in San Fransisco"
- ended to standing O and chants of "VOTE, VOTE, VOTE!"
John Doolittle (R-CA) was next to speak. He talked about the history of the House, how it used to be lit by gas. Said if we opened up more drilling the "effect on prices would be immediate." Democrats are so afraid of drilling and a vote on energy they have held up appropriations bills. On drilling and phantom session: "Why not here, why not now, why not more America forward here and now?!"
Louie Gohmert (R-TX) on Democrat criticism that this is all just a political stunt: "If you're going to pull a political stunt, do you do it in a darkened chamber" without microphones and television cameras? He brought up a father and son from North Carolina who drove up to DC that morning to see a part of history in the House. They wanted to know why their congressman Brad Miller was not there [answer: because he's a Democrat]
Unfortunately, I missed Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) speak with her props. I heard a lot of clapping and cheering.
Caught the tail end of Rep. Ron Lewis' (R-KY) speech: "Let us Vote, let the American people have a voice" let's "stand up as Americans" not Democrats and Republicans.
Republican Whip Roy Blunt (R-MO) mentioned Pelosi's live webchat online that day, how important pieces of legislation like the Monkey Safety Act has been passed but no vote on drilling.
- On Dem claims that they support drilling: "Democrats are for drilling, just not where the gas and oil is"
- On Obama tire gauge idea: "If that's your only plan you don't have much of a plan"
- When Republicans were in control of the House, they passed and sent drilling legislation to the Senate: "I was for drilling before drilling was cool, I was for nuclear before nuclear was cool, and I was for alternatives before alternatives were cool."
- Upon wild applause: "The Speaker would tell the gallery not to applaud but the Speaker's not here so you can do whatever you want"
Rep. John Shadegg (R-AZ) to crowd "You are witnessing something extraordinary" the House is normally empty in the summer, but "lucky you, you get to hear all of us talk."
- "What country would say, 'we have billions of oil and natural gas but we're just going to leave it in the ground and buy oil from people who hate us'?"
- Analogy - If you have an orange grove in your yard, why would you buy oranges from your neighbor who raises prices and doesn't like you?
- "We're here because no matter who you are in America, even the Speaker of the House, you can't stop free speech!"
- On environmental concerns: "We're letting Russia, Saudi Arabia, African countries, Venezuela to drill for oil - do we think they would be more environmentally sensitive than the US?"
- We're spending "$1.2 billion a day to foreign countries for oil," if we instead paid American workers it would help the economy, jobs, etc.
- Predicts "if Pelosi gets her way and we do nothing, some airlines will go bankrupt or fold"
- Wants to renew solar and wind tax credits, wants "all of the above" energy policy - biomaps, geothermal, solar, wind, and FOSSIL FUEL
During Shadegg's talk Rep. Chris Shays (R-CT) interrupted with parliamentary procedure to ask "Didn't we ask Saudi Arabia to pump more oil?" "Yes." And introducted Abby, a girl that looked about 10 years old, who had been on the Floor watching the speakers since 10am that day.
Shadegg had sign that said:
AMERICAN MADE ENERGY MEANS:
- LOWER GAS PRICES
- GREATER NATIONAL SECURITY
- AMERICAN JOBS
- STRONGER ECONOMY
After that I went to a press conference right outside the House Chamber and was able to twitter furiously while the Representatives were speaking as cell phones were allowed in that area. My tweets:
All in all a great experience that I hope continues for the next several weeks. Get down there if you can and be a part of history!