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Bob Barr

Bob Barr

Posted: February 28, 2010 08:50 PM

It's Time to Turn Up the Heat on NAT GAS

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Right now in Washington, our elected officials are ignoring an important solution to many of this country's most pressing problems, and it's one that has been staring Congress straight in the eye for almost a year. I'm talking about the NAT GAS Act.

Pull up the House and the Senate versions of the bill, and what do you see? A long list of cosponsors, particularly on the House side where 130 members have signed on. You've got everybody from Libertarians like Ron Paul to more progressive members as well as conservatives. Democrats and Republicans look at H.R. 1835 and say, "This makes perfect sense." Its broad-based support spans geographic lines, commercial interests, and the political spectrum.

Look over at the Senate side. There are some pretty influential people on there including some very powerful people. Harry Reid's on board. So are Orrin Hatch and Mark Udall. A New Jersey Democrat, Bob Menendez, sponsored the Senate version, yet there are more Republican cosponsors than there are Democrats. Think about that. Right now everyone is talking about how partisan Washington has become, yet here's a bill that is the exception to the rule. The only problem is on the Senate side, just as in the House, there has hardly been any movement on NAT GAS. Why isn't it going somewhere? Why hasn't something happened on it? What can be done?

From my experience in the Congress and following a lot of these things as a consultant on the outside, the NAT GAS Act for many months has been competing with our national fixation on healthcare right now. That's the bad news. The good news is that more and more Americans are now focusing on the economy and creating jobs, all of which this piece of legislation will impact positively.

But it needs to break through the chatter out there, and there's only one way to do that. Members of Congress and Senators are motivated by heat. So we've got to turn up the heat. They have to start getting their mail rooms and inboxes flooded with positive messages, well-articulated messages, petitions, postcards, emails, whatever it takes. Why? Because the NAT GAS Act is a win-win. But we've got to start now. If we don't, every day that goes by means it becomes harder and more expensive to mount that effort.

We import 70 percent of the oil we use, and in the process we send $700 billion overseas every year. There's nothing inherently wrong with allowing the free market to work in this regard, but why not use a little common sense. It's irresponsible to empower our adversaries, tie our country's hands diplomatically and financially, and seriously hamper our economic recovery. Doing business with countries averse, or even hostile to American interests is not smart. Investing in our own industry and creating jobs is smart economics, smart politics, and smart foreign policy. That's why we need to turn up the heat on Congress and get the NAT GAS Act out of committee and on the floor where it belongs.