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Republicans raise ruckus as Congress takes a break

WASHINGTON — The last House vote before a vacation usually sparks a stampede toward the doors and waiting planes. Not so on Friday, when Republicans occupied the House floor for a rare, and at times bizarre, protest against Democratic energy policies.

The microphones and the C-Span cameras were turned off and the lights were dimmed after the morning vote to adjourn for the August recess. That didn't deter Republicans, who one after another rose to demand that Congress stay in session until it does something about high gas prices.

Unlike during a normal session, in which the rules of decorum are strictly enforced, GOP lawmakers and their aides who filled the chamber clapped, chanted, gave standing ovations and booed the Democrats.

"Madame Speaker, where art thou?" shouted Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas, in a glancing rhetorical shot at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. "Where, oh where has Congress gone?"

It was a rare treat for tourists. Republicans invited many, in their shorts and sandals, into the chamber, usually strictly off-limits, to better hear the speeches.

Republicans were angry that Democrats blocked them from a vote on allowing more offshore oil drilling.

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Final action in Congress

As its last major act Friday, the House passed by a 409-4 vote its first spending bill, a $72.7-billion measure awarding generous increases to veterans programs and military base construction projects. More noteworthy, however, was what Congress failed to do: pass energy legislation and other measures aimed at lowering the price of gasoline, which has soared in recent months. Republicans in the Senate blocked a bill that was aimed at curbing speculation in oil markets. Meanwhile, a similar bill and several others by House Democrats — including a plan to encourage drilling in already available coastal areas and in Alaska — failed to advance after party leaders brought them to the floor under procedures that required supermajorities to pass. That procedure blocked Republicans from forcing a vote on opening new areas to oil drilling. The Senate held its last vote Thursday night.

Republicans raise ruckus as Congress takes a break 08/01/08 [Last modified: Monday, November 7, 2011 4:37pm]
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