The press conference came at the end of a six-week long energy protest on the House floor, with Republicans occupying an empty chamber and demanding Speaker Nancy Pelosi hold a vote on their energy plan that includes increased domestic drilling.
The House is expected to consider an energy bill that includes some form of domestic oil drilling as early as this week. Many GOP lawmakers argued their protest helped force Pelosi to include domestic drilling in any larger energy package she may move.
“This is one of the few times the American people are excited to see Congress back in session,” said Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.).
At one point, a protester interrupted, yelling “you’re an idiot!”
The protest was organized by Environment America, the League of Conservation Voters and other environmental groups.
The GOP press conference also came on the first day of “Wilderness Week,” a week of congressional lobbying by environmental organizations calling for increased protection of America’s forests.
The chanting crowds, however, did not deter the emboldened GOP leaders from hammering the Democrats for leaving town last month without voting on the energy issue and for renewing their call for Pelosi to hold a vote on their American Energy Act, which includes opening up both the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge and offshore areas to drilling.
“The first opportunity we get, we are going to try and force a vote on our proposal,” said House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio).
Everywhere he traveled over the August recess, Boehner said, people asked him to pass an energy bill that includes a robust drilling measure.
“The American people have spoken,” he concluded.
“No we didn’t,” screamed one protestor, as the chants from the crowd picked up intensity.