Congress: In telling House Democrats it's OK to vote for drilling, Nancy Pelosi has conceded that on the biggest election issue she's out of step with the American people.
House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, has pounced after hearing that House Speaker Pelosi is privately giving permission to House Democrats with iffy re-election prospects to support drilling for more domestic oil and gas.
"My message to Democratic lawmakers is this: If you're really for increased American energy production, then prove it by putting it in writing," Boehner said as he called on his colleagues across the aisle to sign a discharge petition to force drilling legislation onto the floor. Democratic Reps. Jason Altmire of Pennsylvania and Don Cazayoux of Louisiana have both asked Pelosi to allow a vote.
But when George Stephanopoulos over and over again asked Pelosi on ABC News' "This Week" on Sunday why she would not allow a straight up-or-down vote, the speaker bobbed and weaved.
"But if you feel you have the better arguments, why not give a straight up-or-down vote for drilling?" the former Clinton White House operative asked.
Her answer: "Because the misrepresentation is being made that this is going to reduce the price at the pump."
What Pelosi is afraid of is that a majority of the U.S. Congress believes what most Americans know — that drilling will indeed reduce pump prices.
Stephanopoulos pointed out that when Pelosi came in as speaker, she promised in writing "a full amendment process that grants the minority the right to offer its alternatives" — which she now refuses to provide.
Reminded of this, Speaker Pelosi became flustered, making a couple of false starts with her answer before remarking: "They'll have to use their imagination as to how they can get a vote . . . ."
If Congress removed the ban on drilling offshore, gave access to the massive deposits of oil in the Alaskan Arctic and allowed the oil shale of the Western states to be tapped, the global petroleum market would immediately react positively, bringing pump prices down. Crude futures prices would plunge — as they already have over mere talk of a possible softening by Congress on drilling.