Democrats Return From Five-Week Vacation

Democrats return to Capitol Hill today, five weeks after leaving town. While they were gone, their GOP colleagues staged a revolt on the House floor. Republicans will officially welcome back the majority party at a 3 p.m. rally on the U.S. Capitol steps.

Throughout the five-week congressional recess, Republicans ushered tourists and other visitors to the House floor to hear impassioned speeches about the high cost of energy and the Democrats’ refusal to do anything about it. More than 130 members of the GOP caucus came back to Washington to take part in the uprising, which spanned 25 days in August and September.

Originally started by Reps. Mike Pence (R-Ind.), Tom Price (R-Ga.) and Lynn Westmoreland (R-Ga.) moments after Democrats adjourned the House on Aug. 1, the uprising quickly gained steam. It attracted national news coverage with frequent mentions of the protest, but more importantly local outlets picked up on the unprecedented event. Republican Study Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Tex.) was the beneficiary of a great TV news report from a gas station in his district, which featured a constituent calling Speaker Nancy Pelosi “nuts.”

The question now becomes whether Republicans can move Pelosi from her staunch opposition to oil drilling. While traveling the country on her book tour, Pelosi suggested she was willing to compromise. But the big test comes with the moratorium on drilling in the Outer Continental Shelf expiring at the end of the month. Will Pelosi force a government shutdown to extend the ban?

No issue has united Republicans on Capitol Hill more than their all-of-the-above energy plan. Conservative Reps. Louie Gohmert (R-Tex.) and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) stood side by side with moderate Reps. Christopher Shays (R-Conn.) and Tom Davis (R-Va.) during the uprising. This unity will be crucial with Senate colleagues selling out to Democrats and liberals standing in the way of new drilling.