Republicans Protest Congressional Vacation as Gas Prices Soar

By Ed O'Keefe

Aug 5, 2008 12:34pm

ABC News’ Dean Norland Reports: House Republicans, who insist that Speaker Nancy Pelosi call the House back from its summer recess so votes can be taken on their energy legislation, continued for a third day to make speeches to GOP staff members and Capitol Hill tourists.

They did so in the dimly-lit chamber of the House of Representatives, without the aid of working television cameras or a public address system.

The Republicans became miffed last Friday when Democrats abruptly adjourned the House until September 8 without giving them a chance to speak on the floor about their energy plan, which includes exploring for oil in ANWR and more off-shore drilling.

Even though the House had officially gone out of session, some Republicans stayed on the floor and made speeches anyway.

After taking the weekend off, the guerrilla oratory continued Monday, with organizers of the talk-in estimating that 24 of the 199 House Republicans participated.

At a news conference Tuesday before marching into the House chamber to begin their third day of protest, the GOP dissidents took some credit for the recent drop in the price of oil.

"Markets respond. The market is responding to the fact that we’re here talking," said Rep. John Shadegg, R-Ariz.

Nine Republicans were present at the news conference. Two of them held a sign asking: "NANCY PELOSI – WE’RE HERE, WHERE ARE YOU?"

With the House not in session, the chambers’ televisions cameras have been turned off for the three days of speeches.  The lights in the chamber have been dimmed, which is normally the case when the House is not session.  Also the public address system is off, forcing the Republicans to speak up so they can be heard in the large chamber.

Lucky tourists, many of whom just happened to be touring the Capitol, have been given the rare opportunity of sitting on the House floor.  Wearing t-shirt and shorts, they became an impromptu audience for the speechmakers.

Pelosi, D-Calif., issued a statement on Monday saying, "This Republican hoax is unworthy of the serious debate we must have to reduce the price at the pump and promote energy independence."

House Democratic Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., referred to GOP tactics as "stunts" by a "smattering of House Republicans".

But Republicans claim their unofficial floor sessions are gaining traction with voters who are wondering why Congress is taking a five week vacation while  gasoline prices remain so high.

They vow to continue speaking out on the House floor rest of this week and during the weeks ahead.

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