House GOP Invites McCain to Join Protest; Challenges Pelosi to Stop Them

     Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain may be thrust into the public spat between House Republicans and Democrats over the Democratic leadership’s decision to take summer recess without vote on offshore oil drilling.

     The Democratic leadership allowed the legislature’s scheduled summer break to begin August 1 without holding an up-or-down vote on increasing domestic oil drilling. Republicans stayed behind to protest the decision and have been delivering speeches on the floor of House in support of more drilling.

     In a briefing with bloggers in House Minority Leader John Boehner’s office August 5, Rep. John Shadegg, R-Ariz ,said he would “love to have McCain come speak on the floor” as part of the protest. He said he believes inviting a senator to speak on the House floor would not violate House rules and challenged House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., to stop it.

     "Yes, I think it is something he [McCain] could do. I mean, technically, we are trying to abide by the rules of procedure for the House," Shadegg said. "[W]e begin with a prayer, the pledge and we are speaking from the well -- with one exception, we're not taking questions from the gallery, but we are trying to accord ourselves normal decorum from the House floor."

     McCain told an audience at the National Label Company in eastern Pennsylvania on August 4 he would be willing to come off the campaign trail and back to Washington to debate a new energy policy and urged Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama to do the same.  

     According to Shadegg, the only way McCain could be prevented from participating in the protest would be by an intervention from Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.

     “[I]f Speaker Pelosi wants to stop Sen. McCain from speaking on the floor, she could come back and call us in” to session,” Shadegg said. Republicans want the recess halted so a vote can be taken on drilling proposals.

     “But if she doesn’t come back and call us in then I can certainly invite Sen. McCain out on the floor and let him join us in discussing, uh, the fact that we need to change energy policy in this country,” Shadegg said. McCain supports increased drilling on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS).

     Pelosi has been adamantly opposed to any vote on offshore drilling. She told George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s August 3 “This Week,” Republicans would have to use their imagination if they hoped to get a vote.

     “They’ll have to use their imagination as to how they can get a vote and then they may get a vote,” Pelosi said. “What I am trying to, we have serious policy issues in our country.”

     Shadegg criticized Obama’s energy policy in contrast to McCain’s pro-drilling stance.

     “I think it’s ironic that Barack Obama’s theme is change and yet on the single most important change, uh, facing this country is to change our energy policy – he’s saying well, ‘I don’t want any change there,’” Shadegg said. “’I’m for some other kind of change.’”

     Though the mainstream media coverage of the House Republican protest has been spotty, Shadegg credited bloggers with spreading the word about their endeavors – noting the absence of media in his home district in Arizona.

    “When I got elected in 1994 and came out here and began to serve,” Shadegg said. “I discovered something about news and that is I used to say, ‘News travels to Arizona by covered wagon.’ And what that meant was, it really didn’t matter what I was doing back here – almost none of it made it all the way back to Arizona.”

     He compared the coverage in his district to that of Rep. Pete Hoekstra, R.-Mich., where local media have covered the protest.

     “On Friday night, when I finally flew home and I called Pete Hoekstra Saturday morning – he’d gotten stuck here overnight because they cancelled his flight -- he said that this story was on every radio station in his district, every TV station in his district and every newspaper in his district,” Shadegg said. “I opened my newspaper, not a word. I ran through the TV stations – not a word. So I’m completely oppressed. I’m saying, ‘Here I am fighting on the floor for the cause of freedom and for the cause of American energy production and nobody knows about it.”


     But they had heard about it according to Shadegg – through the blogs.


     “News used to travel to Arizona by covered wagon – it now travels to Arizona by blog, because I was sitting on my front porch and a neighbor walked by said, ‘Hey, I heard you had a great fight on the floor of the House yesterday,’” Shadegg recounted. “And I said, ‘How’d you hear about that?’ He said, ‘Oh, it’s all over the blogs.’”