Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, led a GOP attack Thursday against Democratic House leaders, complaining they are refusing to address high oil costs while they piddle instead with minor bills this election year.

"We're not dealing with the real issues that affect people," Bishop told the House. "We're dealing with the small stuff, the trivialities. ... This is like junk food. It's like cotton candy. It's there. It's fluffy. It's airy. But it is not filling. It has no fiber. It gives the illusion of activity, but in essence we're dealing with a cotton-candy agenda."

Bishop led the Republican attack as the House debated a bill to designate a national historic trail from Rhode Island to Yorktown, Va., marking the path taken by George Washington and the French Army during the Revolutionary War.

Bishop managed the GOP side of that debate as the ranking Republican on the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands. But he and Republicans spoke little about the trail bill, and instead they complained Congress should address much more meaningful issues such as oil prices.

Bishop particularly complained that the House has abandoned efforts to pass annual appropriations bills — probably until after elections — to avoid votes on such things as allowing more development of oil shale in the Rockies or offshore drilling.

Bishop even held up a picture of a miniature car with a sail on top, with the caption, "Democratic energy plan: drive small cars and wait for the wind."

He said, "We haven't dealt with energy. Instead the key issue of this week is to federalize a trail that already exists. ... This bill takes the decisionmaking power away from localities and puts it back here in Washington where we have too many decisionmaking powers we are avoiding."

Bishop said, "This is nothing but legislative piddling. ... We have in essence a Democratic de facto filibuster against energy, against ever talking about it in any way shape or form. Instead, we have a trail — a trail that already exists."

Meanwhile, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi used a weekly briefing to contend that Democrats are working to lower oil prices by increasing supplies and improving conservation. She said President Bush is the one failing to act and said he could lower prices quickly if he would release more oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve for consumer use.

Amid the squabbling over who is not doing enough about oil prices, the House did pass the bill declaring the Washington-Rochambeau Revolution Route National Historic Trail on a 345-69 vote.


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