10:18 AM EDT
John Cornyn, R-TX

Mr. CORNYN. Thank you, Mr. President.

UNIFINSHED BUSINESS

Mr. President, I, too, want to talk about high gasoline prices, but I want to talk about other unfinished business this Senate has not taken care of. Fortunately, we do have one positive development; that is, yesterday we passed the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act--after 145 days had lapsed. So that is a good thing. But we have unfinished work to do.

For example, the Colombian Free Trade Agreement--it has been 597 days that our American farmers and manufacturers have been disadvantaged by tariffs on goods sold here in America. For my State of Texas, there is $2.3 billion a year that is charged in tariffs for our exports when they are imported into Colombia, when Colombian goods bear no similar tariff when their goods are imported into the United States.

Then there is the matter of judicial nominees waiting for a vote--some as long as 742 days.

Then, finally, on the matter of gasoline prices, it was about 808 days ago when Speaker Pelosi said that if she and other Democrats were put in charge, they would come up with a commonsense plan for bringing down the price of gasoline at the pump. Well, that was when gasoline was about $2.33 a gallon. Now gasoline averages $4.10 a gallon, and we are still waiting for that commonsense plan to bring down the price of gasoline at the pump.

Increasingly, Americans are squeezed by the high cost of gasoline. Of course, it is driving up everything from food prices to competing with people's ability to pay for their housing, their health care, transportation, and, obviously, the tax bite, where State and local and Federal taxes take up a huge amount. About 111 days of income is used just to pay for that tax burden.

But what we need to do, I firmly believe, is to find more domestic energy as we use less. What do I mean by that? By using less, we need to conserve, we need to be more efficient. America consumes about 20 percent of the world's oil supply, and unfortunately, about 60 percent of that we import from foreign sources. We are literally held hostage by groups such as OPEC, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, countries such as Venezuela and Hugo Chavez and others that are charging us

about $140 a barrel for oil. Of course, that oil is used to make gasoline at refineries.

But my constituents in Texas are very worried about the failure of Congress to act by removing the impediments or the moratoria on developing what is about 85 percent of our natural resources here at home. That is what I mean by finding more while we use less.

For example, Debra, from Lovelady, TX--a town of roughly 600 people, just a ``Texas mile'' north of Houston--recently wrote me this letter. She said:

I am a school teacher in a small rural East Texas school, so my income is very limited. I drive almost 30 miles one way to work each day as do many of my family and neighbors. We have chosen to stay in small towns for the ``everyone is family'' feeling they still give, but it makes it harder to live with the cost of everything rising.

She said:

The rising price of gasoline is limiting everything I do. I will not make a trip to town unless it is for my monthly shopping needs or to go to church. There will be no summer trips for me this year as I do not see a way to afford driving anywhere.

She concludes:

I know there are vast resources America could tap into. ..... Please look into exploring the energy resources we already have in America.

Well, I believe Debra speaks for a lot of people in this country now as they see their prices go up, as it is driving commodity prices up, such as food costs. They are finding it harder and harder to make it, even if they do have a job, even if they have an income.

I believe it is past time for Congress to respond by removing the impediments to domestic production. That is why I cosponsored the Gas Price Reduction Act of 2008. That act can be summed up, as this chart says: Find more and use less. It opens up offshore and shale oil deposits for exploration so America's energy producers can gain access to Federal lands. This also will create jobs right here in America, which is something I would think we would want to do. In a time when we are talking about

economic stimulus, about concern for the economy, don't we want to create more jobs here in America rather than having those jobs created in places such as Saudi Arabia or Mexico or Canada or Venezuela?

At the same time, this bill increases research and development initiatives and for battery-operated plug-in hybrid technology. I think it is hard for many of my constituents in Texas, with the long distances they have to drive, to imagine a day when they will be driving a battery-operated hybrid car, but I do predict the day is coming, and companies such as General Motors and other car manufacturers, in 2010, will begin selling these plug-in hybrid cars that you can literally plug into a wall

socket at night and recharge the battery and then drive about 40 miles on that battery before you have to get a generator to recharge the battery to provide you additional range. This is in our future. Right now we have about 240 million cars on the road,

and the average age of those cars is about 9 years. So obviously it is going to take a long time--about a decade--before we can transition from the kinds of gas guzzlers and cars that we drive now to something that provides an additional alternative.

I think we are beginning to see some cracks in the intransigence of many in Congress to preventing additional domestic production. I know there are a number of Senators, a fabled group called the Group of 10, the Gang of 10--5 Republicans, 5 Democrats--who are meeting to try to come up with a bipartisan alternative. I applaud that effort. It is really important because, as we all know, nothing happens around here unless it is on a bipartisan basis. I think it is very important, as I saw the Democratic

whip say that he was not opposed to more exploration and production.

I would invite those who are worried about exploration and production here in America to fly into DFW Airport where you can see gas wells being drilled into the Barnett shale right there from your airplane as you land or as you take off. It is being done using modern drilling technology which is compatible with the safety and security of the neighbors as well as a good environment.

We need to act in a bipartisan fashion on real energy solutions--a combination of conservation and energy production. It will be good for America's economy and our energy policy, as well as our national security. Find more, use less.