Today, Rep. John Kline (R-MN) held a conference call to discuss the House Oil Party, starting its third week, and to demand action on energy policy that includes unshackling American domestic production.  Kline represents my district and has been a stalwart on spending policies.  In this term, he adopted the no-pork stance and has held firm despite other members of the Minnesota delegation (James Oberstar) setting the opposite example.

Kline returned to Washington last night for the second time since the adjournment.  The Republicans plan on continuing the pressure as long as they can.  Over 90 House Republicans have participated in this protest so far.  When Pelosi was the Minority Leader, she announced that the Democrats had a common-sense plan on energy policy, and no one has seen it yet.  Kline also referenced the Stephanopolous interview and called her obstructionism “absolutely unacceptable”.

Six discharge petitions have been created on energy policy in this session, and Pelosi has blocked them all.  The Republicans have an all-of-the-above policy that includes drilling, nuclear, clean coal, but also conservation, solar, wind, and geothermal.  Kline says he’s “heartened” by Pelosi’s remarks on Larry King, but we’ll have to wait and see.

Questions:

  • Pelosi knows that if she brought the Republican bill to the floor, it would pass.  That’s why she’s blocked it so far.  Kline is skeptical that Pelosi will allow the vote.
  • Shutdown?  Kline isn’t sure that it will come down to that.  He explained the issue to the call.  If the President vetoed an appropriation, it could shut down the government.  Hoyer says appropriations might get put off for more important legislation, and Kline can’t imagine what that might be.  It could come down to a showdown over a veto override vote; we’ll have to see.
  • Gang of 10 — didn’t eliminate the regulatory hurdles.  Any strategy to deal with that? — Kline says that Democrats have relied on those tactics.  Even without the moratorium, they can block drilling while claiming to support it.  Kline says the protest has given Republicans a chance to meet extensively and plan their own strategy.  Republicans want a vote on their bill, which deals with the regulatory obstacles.
  • Is the Gang of 10 compromise acceptable?  Absolutely not.  The GOP members of this are good people, but they’re making a mistake in caving into the Democratic strategy of blocking drilling under the radar.
  • Environmentalists will try to tie drilling efforts in court; media hasn’t focused on this. — Kline says he can’t imagine how Congress can stop people from filing lawsuits, but they can make sure that the lawsuits don’t have much chance of succeeding.  The House GOP caucus has made this an event that the media can’t easily ignore.
  • What about the rest of the Minnesota delegation? — Kline thinks he’s the only Minnesotan out there, but he’s coordinating with Michele Bachmann on the issue.  Some Democrats are open to a vote, like Tim Walz.

Kline will be live-blogging today at his House site, and will be returning to the floor this morning.