Diary

Sanity Is Absent In The House

Back during the 2006 elections, Democrats complained that Republicans would not allow them to bring issues near and dear to the hearts to the floor of the House for a vote and promised that if they took the majority, they would show the grace and kindness to the minority that Republicans never showed them.

We see with the current debate over offshore drilling that such promises are utterly empty in nature:

WHY NOT have a vote on offshore drilling? There’s a serious debate to be had over whether Congress should lift the ban on drilling in the Outer Continental Shelf that has been in place since 1981. Unfortunately, you won’t be hearing it in the House of Representatives — certainly, you won’t find lawmakers voting on it — anytime soon.

Instead of dealing with the issue on the merits, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), a staunch opponent of offshore drilling, has simply decreed that she will not allow a drilling vote to take place on the House floor. Why not? “What the president would like to do is to have validation for his failed policy,” she said yesterday when asked that very question. “What we’re saying is, ‘Exhaust other remedies, Mr. President.’ . . . It is the economic life of America’s families, and to suggest that drilling offshore is going to make a difference to them paycheck to paycheck now is a frivolous contention. The president has even admitted that. So what we’re saying is, ‘What can we do that is constructive?’ “

If there is an explanation buried in there about why that makes offshore drilling off-limits for a vote, we missed it. Ms. Pelosi is correct that drilling is no panacea for the nation’s energy woes. The short-term effect of lifting the moratorium, if there were any, would be minimal. That doesn’t mean the country shouldn’t consider expanded drilling as one of many alternatives. There are legitimate concerns about the environmental impact of such drilling — environmental concerns that, we would note, exist in other regions whose oil Americans are perfectly happy to consume. But have technological improvements made such drilling less risky? Why not have that debate?

Well, that question–along with many others–got answered here. I will write anew that Democrats have every right to run the House as they see fit. But they are no longer in a position to complain about the way Republicans ran the House or about how they might repay the current bout of Democratic kindnesses if and when Republicans retake the majority at some point. In any event, the hypocrisy that is so endemic a part of Washington has just gotten a new lease on life.