Sen. Boxer Supports Obama's Energy Plan

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This is a rush transcript from "America's Election HQ," August 6, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

HEATHER NAUERT, HOST: NAUERT: Together today, they talked about the energy issue, and so did his opponent, John McCain. McCain thinks that Congress should be in Washington right now, working on fixing the energy crisis, instead of enjoying a recess. Does Obama agree?

Here now is Senator Barbara Boxer, a Democrat from California. And she, by the way, has thrown her support behind Barack Obama's energy plan.

Welcome, senator. So, let me start by asking you, John McCain has been very clear that he wants to leave the campaign trail this August. He wants to go back to Washington, have Barack Obama join him, and do something about the energy issue. Will Barack Obama join McCain in trying to do something this August?

BARBARA BOXER, (D) CALIFORNIA SENATOR: Barack Obama has already called on the president to immediately, without any congressional requirement, unleash some oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and do a swap (INAUDIBLE).

Video: Watch Heather Nauert's interview with California Senator Barbara Boxer

NAUERT: Right. But there are a lot of folks who say, you know, that's just reserves for an emergency, senator, and that this doesn't constitute an emergency.

BOXER: Let me just finish. President Bush's dad did it. Bill Clinton did it. It's an emergency when people are praying this much for gas. I'm shocked that you wouldn't think so.

The fact of the matter is — this is exactly one of the reasons we have this SPR. It's 97 percent full. But let me point this out. Barack Obama isn't just saying release the oil. He's saying swap it so that you wind up releasing the light crude, replacing it with the heavy crude, making a profit, and with those funds, we in Congress think, we could help the people who are suffering — who will be suffering high heating prices, who live in the east coast, particularly with the LIHEAP program.

So, this is what Barack is supporting (INAUDIBLE).

NAUERT: Understood. And we are not looking forward to being more for that home heating oil this fall.

BOXER: Right.

NAUERT: I can assure you of that. But there are some folks out there, and not me, but rather experts in this field who say that tapping the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and swapping it with something else will take too long to fill it and that this really isn't just an energy crisis. I mean, what constitutes a real crisis is something like war, not something like high costs. But my question to you, though, is — will Congress, will they all return.

BOXER: We were in a war, the last I looked.

NAUERT: Will they return to Washington to do something.

BOXER: The last I looked we were in a war.

NAUERT: . to do something about oil this August?

BOXER: We'd be happy to come back, but the last time we were there and we tried to go after the oil speculators and we offered the Republicans a vote on drilling and we said we wanted to a vote on the SPR, releasing some of this oil — which, by the way, a lot of us do think is an emergency, Heather — the Republicans filibustered. So, absolutely, if they would agree to allow us to vote, I think I'd be on that plane.

You know, yesterday, in my workday here in California, I went to see an amazing solar energy startup company that's incredible, and then I went to a biofuels company. All of these things are happening, but our Republican friends have stopped tax breaks for those kinds of endeavors and they've done it three times. It's hurting the country.

NAUERT: Senator, what it's going to take?

BOXER: I'd go back in a heartbeat — I'd go back in a heartbeat, if we could get the Republicans to say they wouldn't filibuster. Absolutely.

NAUERT: OK. So, you're extending an olive branch to Republicans saying, "Let's go, let's not filibuster this and let's get a plan done."

BOXER: Right, yes.

NAUERT: Would the Democrats be willing to back the "Gang of 10" plan, that bipartisan plan, that has been — was discussed in Washington before lots of folks left?

BOXER: Well, I think, a lot of us do think it's a breakthrough, although we don't agree with every single piece of it. It's a great starting place.

So, that would be one way to agree to put that right on the floor. Let's amend it. Let's take a look at it, and absolutely, I think it's a good place to start.

NAUERT: OK. And let me ask you, today — Barack Obama was with Evan Bayh in Indiana. When do you think — and there's a lot of speculation that he could be his V.P. pick — when do you think we'll hear something from Obama on that?

BOXER: Well, I think we all agree we want to know, but this is going to be up to Barack Obama just as it will be up to John McCain to decide. There's rumor that John McCain wants Barack to go first. We don't know what's going to happen. All I could say is — it's exciting and it will happen soon enough, I'm sure.

NAUERT: All right. Senator Barbara Boxer from California, thank you so much for joining us today. We hope to see you again.

BOXER: Thanks, Heather.

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