US business calls for special session of Congress

29 July 2008 00:31  [Source: ICIS news]

WASHINGTON (ICIS news)--A broad coalition of travel industry companies on Monday urged President George Bush to order a special session of the US Congress early next month to deal with the nation’s energy crisis.


If Bush accepts the call and orders Congress to reconvene, it would be the first special session of the federal legislature in 60 years.


In a letter to Bush, some 175 travel industry firms - including airlines, airports, companies dependent on air travel for business, hotels and travel management entities - charged that Congress has failed to deal with the nation’s growing energy crisis.


America is now engulfed in a full-blown and deepening energy crisis which is causing irreparable harm to American families, workers, businesses, communities and the economy - and worse lies ahead,” the coalition warned.


Earlier on Monday, Democrat and Republican leaders in the Senate traded accusations over which party is responsible for the apparent inability of Congress to deal with the energy crisis.


Earlier this month, major airline operators warned policymakers that steadily rising costs for aviation fuel could force some airlines into bankruptcy or shutdown.


Bob Crandall, former chairman of American Airlines and spokesman for the Business Travel Coalition (BTC), said in the letter to Bush that “Our national confidence has been eroded by the perception that the most powerful country in the world … lacks the political will to address the energy crisis”.


“We urge you to call a special session of Congress beginning 11 August for the sole purpose of debating our energy alternatives and enacting a coherent national energy policy,” Crandall said.


Congress is to begin a scheduled month-long recess next week, returning to the Capitol in the second week of September.


US chemical producers and a broad array of other manufacturing and power sector interests have long been pressing Congress on energy issues. Among other things, manufacurers want Congress to lift its 27-year-old moratorium on drilling in 85% of the resource-rich US outer continental shelf (OCS) regions.


The question of a presidential order for a special session on energy issues was discussed earlier on Monday by Senate minority leaders.


Under the US Constitution, the president can summon Congress for a special or extraordinary session to deal with economic crises, war or other emergency matters.


Although often used by presidents in the 19th Century and the early decades of the 20th Century - periods when the congressional calendar was very short - it has been seldom used since the 1930s. 


President Harry Truman was the last chief executive to call Congress into a special session, convening an extraordinary meeting of the legislature in July 1948 to deal with unfinished domestic legislation.


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By: Joe Kamalick
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