GOP Threatens Government Shutdown

This is a rush transcript from "Your World With Neil Cavuto," August 13 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: ell, Senator John Ensign says to Nancy Pelosi, and anyone else who will listen, "We don't drill, we don't govern."

The Nevada Republican says that he will risk a government shutdown if it gets Democrats to wake up to the need for more drilling here. But will it backfire on Republicans here?

Joining me now, Senator Ensign himself.

It's always a risky move. Senator, as you know, the last government shutdown didn't work out too well for you guys. Are you afraid you're going to repeat the same error?

SEN. JOHN ENSIGN (R), NEVADA: Well, the bottom line, Neil, what the American people have to understand is that the Democrats slipped into an appropriations bill a moratorium on oil shale production and any kind of — the procedures to open up the oil shale in the Rocky Mountains, in last year's appropriations bill.

Video: Watch Neil's interview with Senator John Ensign

And also, in each year's appropriations, there's a prohibition on offshore drilling on any kind — opening up any of the new areas for offshore drilling.

So the Democrats have not passed a single appropriations bill this year. They have to do — before the election, they have to do what's called a continuing resolution. Well, in that continuing resolution, they're going to have to put this moratorium, if they want it to continue.

Republicans are saying, let's don't do that. Let's actually open up oil shale exploration. Let's open up offshore drilling...

CAVUTO: I understand that, but — but — but you're risking — you would risk shutting down the government to force the point?

ENSIGN: No, I — what — the Democrats could be risking shutting down the government. What we're saying is, this is...

CAVUTO: Yes, but they would — they — I know — I know. But they would blame it on you, Senator. They would — and, hence, it would all fall out, look we want it...

ENSIGN: Well, the blame game...

CAVUTO: I know the blame game, but here's how this falls out. Perception is everything. You're great at — at knowing how that game works.

And — and they're going to say, we had a solution — Nancy Pelosi offering, the other night, the possible vote on a broad energy bill that would include drilling, the kind of thing you want. And you're kind of hemming and hawing about shutting things down or having the Democrats forced to shut things down.

ENSIGN: Well, actually, I — actually, that's not where I think we should go right now.

Where I think we should go is opening up. I think we should have votes on it, and we should actually work, in a bipartisan fashion, to get true energy production for the United States.

And Neil, I believe very strongly in drilling in places like Alaska, in offshore drilling, in oil shale production. But that's not the only answer to our energy problems. We do — do need alternative energies. We do need more conservation. We need to continue to invest in technologies...

CAVUTO: Do we need more subsidies?

ENSIGN: ... nuclear — nuclear energy. We need more coal.

CAVUTO: Sir, do we need more subsidies and tax breaks for the oil industry? Nancy Pelosi says no. The Democrats say no. They say, you Republicans say yes. And that's the sticky wicket.

ENSIGN: No, I — I — that can — that can — that's certainly a negotiating point that can — that I don't think should hold up anything.

What we — what we need to do, though...

CAVUTO: So, you'll give that up? You'll give that up for more drilling?

ENSIGN: Oh, absolutely.

CAVUTO: OK. Understood.

ENSIGN: Oh, absolutely.

CAVUTO: Gotcha.

ENSIGN: In a heartbeat, we would give that up for — for more drilling.

CAVUTO: All right.

ENSIGN: What we need to do, though, is, we need to go after more production in the United States, because look at our foreign policy with Georgia, with the Middle East. How much of it is affected by our dependence on foreign sources of energy?

CAVUTO: Understood.

ENSIGN: So, we need to do this, as a national priority for our economy, as well as national security.

CAVUTO: Senator, very good having you. Thank you very much.

ENSIGN: Thank you, Neil.

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