It seems unlikely that flight attendants working Continental’s afternoon service between Washington and Houston regularly field requests from passengers looking to leave the plane just minutes before it’s scheduled to take off.
But the request one received from Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas) this past Friday was no ordinary appeal – and neither were the circumstances that led Republicans to storm the floor of the U.S. House to demand a real debate on real solutions to our current (and very real) energy crisis.
It all started on Friday afternoon, history will record, as House Democrats were making their final preparations to adjourn the chamber and embark upon a five-week-long recess without doing a single thing to address skyrocketing prices at the pump. It was a decision we had asked Democratic leaders to reconsider all week, imploring our colleagues to temporarily suspend their vacation plans so we could address the needs of Americans who, because of $4 gas and $5 diesel, had been forced to permanently suspend theirs.
But not only weren’t Democrats themselves interested in sticking around to have that important debate on behalf of the American people, they actually attempted to manipulate the rules of the House to ensure Republicans weren’t able to stick around for it either. And it almost worked.
Typically, members of Congress not involved in a mad-dash for the airport have used the time before a recess to speak directly to their constituents via the House floor — usually for up to five minutes, generally on any subject they’d like. It’s a courtesy that’s been around for an awful long time, and it’s one we had very little reason to suspect wouldn’t be extended to members once again last week.
But Democratic leaders had other plans in mind, as it turned out — gaveling the session closed in such a way as to intentionally deny any opportunity for Republicans (or Democrats, for that matter) to speak. Knowing they had done wrong, those same leaders didn’t linger around the floor any longer than was needed – abruptly silencing the chamber’s microphones, making quick work of the lights, cutting the cameras, and executing a pell-mell rush for the exits.But not all members heeded the direction of the gavel and gave up their fight for affordable energy. And unfortunately for Democratic leaders, those who hadn’t – folks like Tom Price (R-Ga.), Mike Pence (R-Ind.), Lynn Westmoreland (R-Ga.), and Kevin Brady, with luggage in tow — weren’t about to leave the House chamber that day without getting their due time on the House floor.
And so began the spontaneous dialogue on energy that has continued unabated since last week. And having participated in that dialogue when it first kicked-off last week, I can’t wait to get back down there this afternoon to continue that effort – by interacting directly with the men, women and children to whom this Congress continues to deny reasonable access to available energy.
But I won’t be the only member of Congress down on the floor this afternoon. We’re expecting more than a dozen Republican members today, along with former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. His plan is to deliver a message on behalf of the 1.4 million Americans who have signed a petition demanding that Congress finally take meaningful steps to produce more homegrown American energy here at home. Contrast that message with the one being advanced by the current speaker of the House – who continues to deny a simple up-or-down vote on something as basic and reasonable as exploring for more American energy here at home.
What can you do to help? Stop by the U.S. Capitol if you can, and be sure to call or write you member of Congress if you can’t. Tell him or her that the only way to bring down the price of gas, diesel and electricity is to produce more American energy right here in America. And make sure to remind them that, not only does Congress have the ability to deliver affordable energy to the American people, it has the responsibility to.