The Hill reports that Harry Reid has stumbled yet again in the standoff over energy policy. Reid attempted a compromise with Senate Republicans by offering expanded leases in the Gulf of Mexico and a billion acres off the Alaskan coast for new studies. That prompted a fierce backlash from Democrats in the Senate and House, including Nancy Pelosi (via Instapundit):
A group of influential Senate and House Democrats has sided with environmental groups against Reid to call exploration in new areas unnecessary.
The legislation, drafted by Reid and Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.), would open nearly a billion new acres off the coast of Alaska to study for drilling. It would also dramatically accelerate oil leases in the western and central Gulf of Mexico.
“I am unalterably opposed to drilling,” said Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), a member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, who cited a massive oil spill that closed nearly 100 miles of the Mississippi River last week.
The Republicans in the Senate have made good on their pledge to bring the upper chamber to a halt until a full debate and vote on drilling can take place. Reid cannot split off any Republicans, although he tried with an omnibus spending package consisting of $10 billion in pork. The Republicans refused to bite, however, and Reid needs some way to satisfy enough of them to take control of the chamber again.
Unfortunately, his own caucus won’t allow it. Despite polling that shows 70% of American voters favoring expanded domestic oil production, Democrats appear determined to obstruct it. Lautenberg grasped onto the oil spill in New Orleans as an excuse not to drill, even though the spill has nothing to do with drilling; an oil tanker ran into a barge, and oil tankers would exist with or without new drilling. Pelosi, meanwhile, has closed debate in the House, claiming to be on a mission:
With fewer than 20 legislative days before the new fiscal year begins Oct. 1, the entire appropriations process has largely ground to a halt because of the ham-handed fighting that followed Republican attempts to lift the moratorium on offshore oil and gas exploration. And after promising fairness and open debate, Pelosi has resorted to hard-nosed parliamentary devices that effectively bar any chance for Republicans to offer policy alternatives.
“I’m trying to save the planet; I’m trying to save the planet,” she says impatiently when questioned. “I will not have this debate trivialized by their excuse for their failed policy.”
Actually, she will not have this debate at all. Over a year ago, a few months after taking control of the House, Pelosi bragged about stripping Big Oil of its tax incentives and the redirection of money towards corn ethanol and a variety of energy alternatives as the Democratic strategy specific to lowering gas prices. Instead of going down, prices have risen a full third in the intervening year. Whose policy has failed? Small wonder she has taken the path of the petty tyrant and stifled all debate in the House.
The Democratic policies of failure and shortage have finally been exposed to the American voter. Pelosi may kill debate in the House, but the Democrats are going to lose the debate with the American electorate. If they can’t even go as far as Reid went in reaching a compromise, the Republicans will have a field day in November. The ads write themselves, and perhaps for the first time in this electoral cycle, Republicans have real energy behind them.