Senator Jim DeMint on Offshore Drilling

This is a rush transcript from "Your World With Neil Cavuto," October 1, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Now, my next guest wants oil companies to start drilling right now. Today, he introduced the Drill Now Act to permanently opening offshore drilling.

Republican Senator Jim DeMint is here.

Senator, it is always good to see that you guys can — can, you know, multitask. I sometimes wonder, when they want to shut down all votes on everything else and just focus on one thing, that...

SEN. JIM DEMINT (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Well, Neil, you have got to understand, the only reason this expired is because we didn`t do anything.

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This — this whole moratorium expired at the end of this month. And the American people were so angry, that they backed down, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi. So, they did not try to extend the moratorium. So, this is Energy Freedom Day. It`s the one silver lining up here in Washington that...

CAVUTO: So, what does it mean? When you say it`s energy freedom, if I am a governor of a state that could be affected, you know, Florida, or — the Alaska governor seems to be a little busy right now — that I could go ahead and — and drill, baby, drill?

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DEMINT: Well, this is the first step. It does open a door that has not been opened in many years.

But my bill, the Drill Now Act, would actually expedite the whole process, led the Interior Department move ahead quicker. It would allow states to share equally in the royalties, which would create incentives at the state level. And it would stop the radical environmental lawyers from delaying for years with frivolous lawsuits the leasing of the property.

So, we can make this happen with a little political will. And my hope is just to start ginning up support on the outside, just as we did for Energy Freedom Day.

CAVUTO: Well, but I — you might be more confident than I am. And you are an optimistic guy to begin with. But I don`t see the political will there, Senator. I see everyone fixated on this financial rescue package, whatever they`re calling it, and little tolerance or patience for anything else.

DEMINT: Well, the people are angry with this government. They don`t trust the government. And we have seen well over half of Americans demonstrate that they don`t want this bailout.

And they are the ones who have pushed this energy issue. And once we get past this bailout, which hopefully we will do today, I think the American people are going to refocus on energy, the cost of gasoline, and they`re going to force this Congress, I hope, after this election, to do the right thing as far as...


CAVUTO: So, after the election, it would be...



DEMINT: I don`t think anything is going to happen before the election...

CAVUTO: All right.

DEMINT: ... and probably never will if we elect Obama here. But, hopefully, if we get a McCain presidency, we can develop our own energy and begin to pay back the $700 billion we are going to throw at the markets today.

CAVUTO: Let me ask you about what is being voted on today.

They`re all talking on the floor of the Senate about this measure. It is a gimme, I guess, that it`s going to pass the Senate. Do you think it does? And, then, is it largely going to be that measure that, intact, will get likely approved by the House, and this thing is a done deal by the end of the week?

DEMINT: Yes, I think they have put sweeteners all around the same bill, but it is the same $700 billion that gives one person the ability to buy asset in the world that they want to. I just think it is a huge move towards a socialist economy. So, I am going to oppose it. But it will easily pass the Senate.

CAVUTO: You will oppose it?

DEMINT: I will oppose it. And...

CAVUTO: How many are joining you?

DEMINT: We will probably have 10 or so. But anything with a lot of spending in the Senate is going to go through in a bipartisan fashion.

CAVUTO: OK. It has got the 60 votes, as a gimme.


CAVUTO: Do you think it gets up to 70?

DEMINT: It will be close to 90.

CAVUTO: Really?

DEMINT: Well, maybe 80.

CAVUTO: Wow. Wow.

DEMINT: I think some Democrats will bail on this.

But with all the sweeteners that they have put on it, and directed spending for some members of House — the House, they will have plenty of votes when it gets to the House, because the ones who voted no, who I think were heroes, earlier in the week, have been treated like villains. But we have been trying to force...

CAVUTO: Well, you know why they were treated like villains, is the market reaction that day was sort of turned around to a threat, that this is what happens with your so-called principle.

DEMINT: Well, it was 300 down when it opened that morning.

CAVUTO: You are quite right. You are quite right.

DEMINT: And, so, I think this whole thing has been about panic and sensationalism.


DEMINT: We do have a problem, but it was caused by bad government policy, bad Federal Reserve policy. And we are not fixing any of that.


DEMINT: So, when we get through — through with this, we`re going to have the same problems we did before.

CAVUTO: Senator, thank you very much.


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