Bush includes energy among Congress's 'unmet priorities'

Nick Snow
Washington Editor

WASHINGTON, DC, Nov. 14 -- Calling it "another priority that Congress has failed to meet," US President George W. Bush criticized federal lawmakers on Nov. 13 for failing to act on energy proposals he outlined in his State of the Union address on Jan. 23.

"When they were elected last November, majority leaders in Congress promised to pass an energy bill to reduce our dependence on oil. I consulted with members of both parties, and in my State of the Union address, I proposed a plan to reduce America's gasoline consumption by 20% over 10 years. I called this plan 20-in-10, and asked Congress to pass it by the beginning of the summer driving season," Bush said in a New Albany, Ind., speech.

"Now the summer driving season is over, the price of oil has jumped to nearly $100/bbl, and Congress has not acted. America clearly needs legislation that expands the use of ethanol and biodiesel, promotes energy conservation, [and] invests in advanced technologies like clean coal and nuclear power," he maintained. "Breaking our reliance on oil and gas is not going to happen overnight.

"Congress should also authorize environmentally responsible oil exploration offshore and in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. American consumers and businesses are looking to Washington for action on this issue," Bush continued. "And Congress needs to pass a bill that encourages the development of more energy and makes us less dependent on foreign sources of oil, and they need to do it now."

His criticism was part of a broader attack on congressional Democrats for not completing federal departments' annual operating budgets more quickly and increasing them beyond what the administration requested. "And they're not picky about how to raise taxes," he said. "To them, every bill on the floor is an opportunity for a tax hike. Congress has proposed tax increases in the farm bill, the energy bill, the small business bill, and the children's health bill. If you find a bill that doesn't have a tax increase, just wait a while—they'll put one in there," he said.

Noting that Bush compared Congress to "a teenager with a new credit card," US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) responded: "If President Bush applied for a credit card, any bank in America would turn him down as a bad credit risk. He has put more foreign debt on the nation's credit card than all previous presidents combined, saddling our children and grandchildren with $3.3 trillion in new debt…. Given his dismal record of maxing out America's credit card, the president is in no position to lecture Congress about fiscal responsibility or economic policy."

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com

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