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MSNBC Interview - Transcript


Location: Unknown

MS. MITCHELL: The lights may be out in the House chamber, but at least 20 House Republicans are still on the Hill. They are demanding that the Democrats come back to Washington to vote on an energy package.

And one of those House Republicans on the Hill, Marsha Blackburn, Republican of Tennessee, a McCain supporter, joining us now live from Washington, from the Hill.

Congresswoman, first of all, just moments ago in Pennsylvania, Senator McCain called for Senator Obama to get Democrats to return to Washington. Let's watch.

(Video clip begins.)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ): Congress should come back into session, and I'm willing to come off the campaign trail.

I call on Senator Obama to call on Congress to come back into town and come back to work, come off their recess, come off their vacation and address this energy challenge to America and don't leave until we do.

(End video clip.)

MS. MITCHELL: Congresswoman, this statement just from the White House, though, Tony Fratto saying that while they fully understand the House GOP's efforts to encourage Democrats to stop blocking up-or-down votes -- up-and-down votes on domestic oil production, quote, "we don't have plans to call Congress into session."

So the president is not calling them back. Wouldn't John McCain like to see the president call the Democrats back?

REP. BLACKBURN: John McCain is talking to people every single day, and what he is hearing from them is the same thing that we are hearing from our constituents. The number one issue is energy.

The cost of energy affects schools that are trying to run school buses and get school started this month. It affects the cost of groceries when you're going to the grocery store, it is affecting the cost of trying to get logs for -- out of our forests for our loggers; it affects the cost of crops, trying to get to ports so that they can be sent forward.

And Andrea, what people want is to see this issue addressed. They are tired of the inaction of the Democrat-led Congress.

MS. MITCHELL: Well, I hear you, but why isn't George Bush then calling them back? Why hasn't the White House heard that same message?

REP. BLACKBURN: That would be a great question to ask, because I'm one of those members that has sent a message to the president. I've sent a letter over to the White House stating it is time for Congress to address this.

It is so unfortunate that the Democrat leadership of the House and Senate decided to adjourn and not address this issue, not take a vote on drilling, on domestic drilling. And certainly the president exercised his right in lifting the executive order on the Outer Continental Shelf, and Congress should follow suit.

We need short-term, mid-range, and long-term solutions to this issue. Senator McCain has brought forward the Lexington Project, working to make us independent of foreign sources of oil.

We know that there are things Congress can do to speed this up, and --

MS. MITCHELL: But why now, Congresswoman? This has been going on for quite some time.

Let me play a little bit of Barack Obama today in Lansing, Michigan, talking about exactly this thing.


(Video clip begins.)

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL): He said, and I quote, "Our dangerous dependence on foreign oil has been 30 years in the making and was caused by the failures of politicians in Washington to think long term about the future of the country." (Applause.)

Now, what Senator McCain neglected to mention was during those 30 years he was in Washington for 26 of them. (Cheers.) And in all that time, he did little to reduce our dependence on foreign oil.

(End video clip.)

MS. MITCHELL: What is your response to that regarding John McCain, and what Republican Congresses failed to do?

REP. BLACKBURN: Well, and you know the Energy Policy Act of '05 that we passed was something that took six years, because the Democrats wanted to give concessions to environmentalists.

And then you go in and you look at what has happened to the price at the pump since the Democrats took control of both houses of Congress in January '07. And you know, Andrea, listening to that clip, I thought about my grandmom who, with 27 of my cousins and I every once in a while we would do something and we would get to the point and she would say, you are on my last nerve.

MS. MITCHELL: (Laughs.)

REP. BLACKBURN: And I think that the American people are saying that we are on their last nerve. They have had enough of this, and we have gotten to the point that they will no longer tolerate inaction. They want to see action; they want to see the problem solved.

This is a serious issue, and it deserves our serious and undivided attention. And if, you know, they want to continue to pass it, the Democrat leadership wants to continue to pass all of this frivolous legislation -- I think they've named 104 Post Offices this year, and we've recognized all these different months. They've made that their priority.

For goodness sakes, let's put the interest of the American taxpayer, of our constituents, ahead of all of these special interests and let's focus on addressing this issue.

We have constituents, we have school systems, we have farmers, we have agricultural individuals that are trying to move their products. We have loggers that are saying we cannot get these owner-operated rigs in to move logs out of our forest and get them to the mills.

We are hearing from people that this is compromising every single portion of our economy. It is affecting jobs creation. The energy issue has to be dealt with. Congress has the power and the ability, and they could and should be doing something. They do not have the political will.

And the Democrat leadership of both chambers of this Congress should get back to Washington, and we should get this issue addressed.

MS. MITCHELL: All right. Marsha Blackburn, thank you very much, from Tennessee.

REP. BLACKBURN: Thank you, Andrea. So good to see you.


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