Pelosi’s Energy Stonewall

The Wall Street Journal | Aug. 1, 2008

Hell — otherwise known as Congress — has officially frozen over. For the first time since the 1950s, Members will skip town today for the August recess without either chamber having passed a single appropriations bill. Then again, Democrats appear ready to sacrifice their whole agenda, even spending, rather than allow new domestic energy production.

Or even a mere debate about energy. The Democratic leadership is stonewalling any measure that might possibly relax the Congressional ban on offshore drilling. Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid know that they would lose if a vote ever came to the floor, and they’re desperate to suppress an insurrection among those Democrats who are pragmatic about one of the top economic issues. Behind this whatever-it-takes obstructionism is an ideological commitment to high energy prices. The rulers of the Democratic Party want prices to keep rising.

A good gauge of the radicalism of their energy blockade is the lowest common denominator of this energy fight: The effort to blame “speculators” for $4 gas was promoted by both Barack Obama and John McCain, as well as nearly everybody else in Washington. Sure enough, the House voted 276-151 on Wednesday for a bill that would have driven oil futures trading overseas.

But the legislation actually failed to become law — by design. It needed a two-thirds majority because Speaker Pelosi suspended the rules to prevent Republicans from offering amendments, drilling among them. Ms. Pelosi had decreed that she would not permit a roll-call vote under any circumstances, even if it stopped her own goal of wrecking the U.S. futures market.

Meanwhile, the Senate is locked down over its own antispeculation bill. Majority Leader Reid briefly agreed to allow four amendments on GOP policy alternatives, but he withdrew the offer after he was subjected to the fury of the environmental lobby and Ms. Pelosi. To prevent a vote on offshore drilling this week, Senate Democrats also let fail a bill providing home heating assistance for the poor. Same thing for tax subsidies for wind and solar energy.

Other liberal inspirations, including suing OPEC and a windfall profits tax on the oil industry, also ended up in the Congressional dumpster. And of course Democrats long ago shut down the normal budget process in both the Senate and the House to avoid any vote.

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