In terms of messaging, House Republicans are chiefly focused on Obamacare. House leadership aides tell me they’re planning more votes on the law, hoping to pressure vulnerable Democrats to support delay or repeal. But it’s not the only issue on their radar. This week, the House will also vote on a series of energy bills. According to Politico, legislation on drilling permits, states’ fracking rights, and natural-gas pipelines will all come to the floor.
To get a sense of how these votes will unfold, I called up Ken Blackwell, the former Ohio secretary of state and senior adviser to Securing America’s Future Energy, who has been huddling with House Republicans.
Blackwell expects strong support for the bills, and says Speaker John Boehner and other top House Republicans are looking to sharpen the GOP’s energy pitch ahead of the midterms. Along with Obamacare, Blackwell says, they see energy-policy reform as a way to both unite the conference and needle Democrats.
“It’s a jobs issue,” Blackwell says. “They understand that on the supply side, if we want to create accelerated growth, create jobs, and elevate incomes, then getting the government out of the way and rapidly expanding the energy field is paramount, and they’re going to use the failure of Obamacare as a way to make that argument, showing how government took over health care and failed.”
For Boehner and the leadership, energy is a “coalition issue,” Blackwell adds. “Republicans can chew bubble gum and walk at the same time. It isn’t a matter of suspending attention to Obamacare, but it’s about making a broader case, and a comprehensive energy policy is going to be part of that.”