Congressman Adam Putnam and other House Republicans were today joined by former Speaker of the House of Representatives Newt Gingrich in protesting the Democratic leadership's refusal to act on legislation to increase domestic energy production.
Here are Putnam's remarks, introducing Gingrich:
"We are now in the first full week of the five-week recess that Nancy Pelosi has declared, but we are also well into an unprecedented protest by House Republicans to demand that the Speaker bring Congress back to Washington to have an up or down vote on a pro-American pro-production energy strategy so that we may become less dependent on the sheiks and Chavezes for the lifeblood of our economy.
"At home we are hearing about school districts having to cut back, municipalities cutting back the number of police cruisers, manufacturing jobs being lost to overseas competitors, because Congress has not put forward an American energy strategy.
"So once again Republicans will take to the floor despite the fact that the Speaker has turned off the microphones, despite the fact the Speaker has turned out the lights. We are taking our arguments, we are taking our vision for American energy to the American people: here in Washington to the tourists who will be in the gallery and on the floor to witness this, across the nation in our districts, on the Internet, on the blogs, on the radio and in the print media.
"In every corner of America we want Americans to understand that there is a bill out there that will produce more American energy. There are pro-energy members of Congress in both parties who are willing to cast that vote and there is one Speaker who refuses to schedule that vote."
Here are key comments from the Q&A:
"We have people crying out from the sidewalks as the parades go by and Members of Congress are walking, saying When are you guys going to do something about the energy crisis in America? When are you going to produce more American Energy? When are we going to stop sending $700 billion a year to people who don't have our best interests at heart?'"
"We are calling on all of the people who have the authority to call Congress back into session to do so."
"The responsibility of governing means that you deal with the great challenges of the day. And the great challenge not only for today but for future generations in America is the total absence of a comprehensive energy policy, one that at the end of the day will allow our children to look at a map of the world and point to the Middle East and say What an interesting part of the world, but totally irrelevant to America's economic security.'"
"I'd like to be in session next week; that's our ultimate goal. Let's be in session. Let's turn the lights back on. Let's turn the mikes back on. Let's get Congress back to work."
"The important part about the Senate's bipartisan plan is that it reinforces what we've been saying all along: There is a bipartisan recipe to solve this problem if only the small group of Democratic leaders would allow a vote on the floor."
"You know, as dysfunctional as Congress frequently appears rank and file members working together for the common good can produce an energy policy. Republicans who are pro- energy working with Democrats who are pro-energy can produce a bipartisan plan. But that requires we be in session and that the vote is allowed to occur."
Since 2001, Putnam has represented Florida's 12th Congressional District, which includes most of Polk County and portions of Hillsborough and Osceola counties. As chairman of the Republican Conference, he is the third ranking member of his party's leadership in the House of Representatives.