McConnell: ‘The Time for Timidity has Passed’

‘This is a big problem, and the problem is bigger than just speculation; good ideas from all sides should be considered. It’s what the American people demand’


WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell delivered the following remarks on the Senate floor Monday regarding the need to pass a balanced, bipartisan approach to the rising price of gas:


“All across the country, Americans are feeling the sting of record high gas prices at the pump. The cost of food is rising along with the price of gas. Truckers and stay-at-home parents and commuters and vacationers are frustrated at paying more for gas than any of them ever imagined.


“The situation is urgent, it demands our full attention, and it demands a serious legislative response.


“And though a barrel of crude oil costs roughly three times what it did when Democrats took over Congress a year and a half ago, so far, the Democrat leadership has been timid about solutions. They’ve treated high gas prices as a distraction. But the time for timidity has passed. Americans are demanding that Congress do something to lower the high price of gas, and they won’t be fooled by gimmicks or half-measures.


“The Majority Leader has moved to a bill that only addresses the issue of speculation. But no serious person thinks passing this legislation alone will fix the problem. I don’t know of any reputable economists who think that simply addressing the futures market will significantly affect the price of gas.


“Warren Buffett, the most famous rich Democrat in America, dismisses the idea. T. Boone Pickens—who will be meeting with the Democrats tomorrow—dismisses the idea. The Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke, dismisses the idea. Serious economists on all sides dismiss the idea. The 27-nation International Energy Agency dismisses the idea.


“Strengthening regulation of the futures market is a worthwhile piece of any legislative effort, but let’s be clear from the outset: it’s just a piece—and a small piece at that.


“We need to think about the scope of this problem, and act boldly. Problems this big require a bigger solution than a single idea by a single member of Congress, not timid attempts to address only part of the problem. As the Senior Senator from Tennessee has said, can you imagine if President Kennedy had acted timidly when launching the space mission? What do you think the reaction would have been if he had declared we will go halfway to the moon? Good ideas from both sides should be considered. And Americans, we know, are demanding nothing less.


“They’re demanding, above all, that we treat high gas prices for what they are: the single most important domestic issue facing Americans today. And they’ll know we’re doing so when they see us dealing head on with supply and demand. Increased global demand for oil is not going down anytime soon. This means gas prices will not go down unless supply goes up.


“And with gas prices now well above $4 a gallon, the time has come for those who oppose a balanced approach to retreat from their long-held opposition to targeted and responsible oil exploration at home. They need to unlock the Outer Continental Shelf and lift their ban on the development of the vast oil shale deposits in western states. America is the third-largest oil producer in the world. We possess within in our own borders triple the amount of oil potential of Saudi Arabia with oil shale alone. It’s time for the opponents of a balanced approach to unlock these vast domestic resources that will allow us to finally start the process of increasing domestic supply even as we work together toward a future free from dependence on Middle East oil.


“Our friends have been reluctant until now to unlock these vast domestic reserves because of an aversion to fossil-fuels and a sluggish attitude toward legislating in the middle of a presidential election year. But Americans are more concerned right now about paying for gasoline and groceries than they are about the political calendar. And, over the past couple of weeks, a number of our friends on the other side have indicated they want a balanced solution too.


“So far, a dozen Democrats have expressed some level of openness to new domestic exploration. We are approaching a bipartisan consensus on the need to increase domestic supply. But their leadership isn’t there. Their presidential nominee opposes every effort to increase supply. The Speaker of the House is walking in lock-step with Al Gore.


“It’s time for Republicans and Democrats to come together on high gas prices. It’s time to put aside old and outdated prejudices about offshore exploration, which is being done safely by countless other countries around the world and here at home too. It’s time to use the resources we have, and stop timidly nibbling around the edges. It’s time to deliver for the American people. It’s time to do what we were sent here to do.


“A serious solution is already at hand. The Gas Price Reduction Act, with 44 co-sponsors, features a speculation piece that addresses the concerns of the bill the Democrat Leadership would have us vote on tomorrow. But it’s bolder than just that. It also contains the elements of a serious energy bill. It faces supply and demand head on by lifting the ban on Western oil shale development and opening up exploration far from the shores of the states that want it. And it promotes energy efficient vehicles like plug-in electric cars and trucks.


“The Gas Price Reduction Act was written with one bipartisan principle in mind: find more, use less. And if we adopt it, the American people will see that Congress is taking their concerns seriously.


“Anything short of this bill will not be welcomed by the American people and will prove to be a waste of energy. If we pass the speculator piece alone, Americans will continue to demand a serious solution that gets at supply and demand. But we can avoid such a disappointment now by getting behind a proposal that directly addresses the price of gas at the pump.


“This is a big problem, and the problem is bigger than just speculation; good ideas from all sides should be considered. It’s what the American people demand.”