McCain says he'd push Congress to vote on energy

August 6, 2008 6:53:40 PM PDT
Republican candidate John McCain on Wednesday called on Congress to return from its summer recess to address immediately the U.S. energy crisis, though he missed numerous energy-related votes in the Senate last year. McCain, campaigning on energy and economic issues in southern Ohio, said that as president he would tell members of Congress "not to leave town, not to take their vacation or pay raise" until they passed legislation to ease the burden of high energy prices on consumers.

The idea of forcing Congress to deal with energy issues could open the Arizona senator to charges of hypocrisy. The liberal-leaning League of Conservation Voters gave McCain a "zero" rating for 2007, saying he had missed all 11 votes related to such critical energy topics as automobile fuel economy, offshore Virginia drilling, refinery construction, renewable electricity mandates, energy efficiency, liquefied coal, support for biofuels.

Last weekend, the House and the Senate adjourned amid calls from House Republicans for a vote on an energy bill that would expand more domestic oil drilling. In the Senate, a debate was pending on a proposal by a bipartisan group of 10 to boost taxes on oil companies while allowing an expansion of offshore oil drilling.

Both McCain and Democratic rival Barack Obama have signaled an openness to such a compromise, but they have said they need to review details of the proposal.

Touring Merillat Industries, a cabinet manufacturer known in the industry for its efforts to improve energy efficiency, McCain repeated his support for more offshore drilling and criticized Obama for not fully embracing nuclear power as part of a comprehensive energy plan.

"He's out of touch," McCain said.

Obama has never ruled out the use of nuclear energy but has cautioned against expanding it until concerns about proliferation and the storage of nuclear waste can be addressed.

McCain also called for a crackdown on the credit market in light of the housing crisis. The Merillat company, which employs about 5,100 people in eight plants in the U.S., has been hit hard by the slowing housing market.

"Companies like Merillat and families across Ohio face challenges in business and across the kitchen table," he said.

McCain released a new TV ad questioning Obama's readiness to help American families. The ad played off a theme the Arizona senator has been pushing since Obama's tour of Europe: Obama is a worldwide celebrity but not a leader ready to be president.

In the ad, an announcer poses the question, "Is the biggest celebrity in the world ready to help your family?" The ad goes on to criticize Obama as promoting higher taxes and more government spending, both leading to fewer jobs.

The ad touts McCain on energy, jobs and the economy as a whole.

McCain released an ad on Tuesday that seeks to distance him from unpopular President Bush.