Many of the constituents in Rep. Scott Garrett's Northern New Jersey district commute to nearby New York City every day, so when the price of gas jumped to $4 per gallon, he heard about it.
Calls from constitents were so overwhelming, in fact, that his office established an e-mail address ([email protected]) for people to share their comments. Garrett, who returned to Capitol Hill today, told me he wanted to hear from constituents who changed their lifestyles in order to cut back on driving.
Just one day after setting up the e-mail address, the comments are pouring in to Garrett's office -- from an elderly couple who can't afford air conditioning to a small business owner who had to cut back on medical and dental care for his family. Today on the House floor as part of the GOP's ongoing energy protest, Garrett read some of the messages he received not only from his constituents but from people all across America.
I've reprinted some of the e-mails verbatim that have arrived. In each case, I've abbreviated the authors' last name.
Theresa N., Great Meadows, N.J.:
Thank you for giving us an opportunity to reach our public representatives to voice our concerns regarding high fuel bills.There are many people in my town who are afraid they will not be able to afford to heat their homes this winter, myself included. They are running out and looking for alternative ways to heat their homes with pellet stoves, wood fireplaces, etc… I am a stay at home mom who now has to look for work due to the fact that food, gas, taxes have gone sky high and my husband's paycheck has not caught up. I don't know how I am going to afford school supplies and school clothes. Our paycheck just doesn't make it anymore and these gas prices are driving up prices on everything!!!THIS SHOULD BE THE NUMBER ONE CONCERN WHEN CASTING OUR VOTES THIS NOVEMBER. And I am sure the American people DO NOT want a lot of "lip service" and "empty promises" just to get into office. We need solutions and I thank you for this opportunity to communicate with you, so won't you please help us??
*Ed S., Portland, Maine: *
Tom Allen is my rep.Pain at the Pump is hard in rural Maine, I am a rugged individual work hard, and am proud of being able to keep my family above water.I work full time as a software System Engineer, and have a secondary job as a photographer that helps make ends meet.When times are tough I work more.What has the Pain at the Pump done for me, make it so I need to work longer hours at my second job and have less time with my 5 year old son Zackery James. I do spend as much time with him as I can but it breaks my heart when I come home from one job he is so happy to see me and asks are you home for the day daddy? I tell him no I need to go back out to work to help put enough money aside for Oil and Gas for the winter.He understands, and we have a great family, but I am not seeing my son grow if I spend more time away.I have called Tom Allens office and asked him to support drilling for more oil in the US and his staffers say he is opposed to this.Meanwhile we have Winter coming on, where the temperatures in Portland Maine can get to Minus 20 and require heaters to run non-stop for the night.I have dialed back my heat to 60 degrees, which is OK, but I find it rather vain that Tom Allen does not wish to allow us to drill for more local supplies.I personally think that it is some kind of Sick Political joke, lets get the economy as bad as we can so people need assistance, or so our side can win, but I don’t want hand outs, I want solutions.The Congress messed up the food supply with Corn Ethanol and god be willing I hope they do not mess up the oil industry.On Friday August 1st I was listening to the radio and heard the report of the Speaker of the House sending the Political types home for the summer while I am forced to work 2 and 3 jobs, she does not earn any points from me.
L.G. S., Hull, Ill.:
We honor & applaud you & your constituents for continuing the session from the blatant disrespect the Dum-o-crats are creating for the citizens/people or real americans involving the cost & hardships being endured by the working class….I have been asked to write & submit to you "from many citizens of the counties of Adams, Pike, & Calhoon, Illinois "All are mostly small communities & sparsley populated farming counties involving numerous single commuters.
Gene and Elizabeth M., Location Unknown:
How are the gas prices affecting us? We are a family of 5; working adults; 3 kids. We have tried to switch out of our two "gas guzzlers" (a 2000 Windstar Van and a 1995 Ford Explorer) and have picked up two junkers; and I mean junkers (a 91 Toyota Corolla and a 95 Suzuki) all in an effort to stay on the road and get to work. The Toyota lost its transmission last week on the busiest roadway in our city two weeks ago and the Suzuki broke down at a grocery store, leaving my husband to walk home. So, we spend every week-end trying to patch/paste our old cars back together so that we can continue to get to work. This is ridiculous; we should not have to jeopardize our safety on the highway so that we can get to our jobs! Additionally, we have tried to raise our own kids (Mom works part-time in order to be home part of the day); we are now looking at two full time jobs just to keep the wolves away from the door. Should that happen, we will say good-bye to any of our kids school sports activities as they require rides to and from practices, which are scheduled during the day. That is how the prices are affecting us.
Matthew D., Kentucky:
Last year I was able to find a new, good-paying job after going back to school and completing my degree. After being out of high school for 16 years and making very little money, I finally was able to obtain my diploma. With the increased income my wife and I were able to purchase our American dream: a home well out of town in the country where we can raise our three sons as we see fit.Tonight my wife and I have sent off life insurance forms to our agent asking him to adjust our coverage. We have had to drastically cut costs in all areas of our life including reducing our life insurance coverage.Moving to the country worked fine for us until the fuel price increases.I could no longer afford the gas to drive to work each day, so we've had to do some trading with a friend to get a much smaller vehicle, one that does not fit our entire family of six. Three car seats, my wife, her mother, and I do not all fit in a fuel-efficient sedan. We still have our larger vehicle to fit us all, yet filling the tank is ridiculously expensive so it sits idle in the garage for most of the week, and our summer road trip to Tennessee has been canceled.In spite of what elitists in Washington and elsewhere may think, I as a common American am not stupid. I can see what is happening to our country. The Roman empire wasn't destroyed by burning too much oil, and neither will America be. Please keep up the fight, and know that there are still millions of us who love this great country.
Michael V., Location Unknown:
First off I'd like to thank you and the rest of the Republican House Members for finally generating a backbone and taking on the democrats. It must be nice for those House members to be able to take a vacation. I was going to do the same this summer but the cost of gas is such that I've had to cancel my plans and stay at work. Additionally, as the cost of gas is effecting the cost of everything I need to live, odds are that I will not be able to take a vacation at all this year. Since my company has a vacation policy of use it or loose it, I may wind up not only being not able to take a vacation but loosing my vacation entirely this year. Needless to say, I will not be buying Speaker Pelosi's book that she is selling while she gets to take a five week vacation. For one, I am not interested in anything she has to say but more to the point, I couldn't afford it if I wanted to read the thing. I know I am not alone in having to cancel my vacation plans this year. For members of Congress to take a five week vacation while the citizens of this country can't is appalling. I have asked President Bush to call Congress back in session, I have also asked Sue Myrick to join your fight. I will hold to task any of my representatives that fail to enlist in this revolution through the power of my vote. The time to act is now!Thank you again Mr. Garrett. I will say to you what I say to my brothers and sisters in the military.....Good Hunting.
Helen G., Phillipsburg, N.J.:
I am a single divorced woman who raised my children without aide from anyone.Hard work and perserverance, nothing more or less.Due to the increase in gas prices.......I have not been able to always make my mortgage payment on time, I have had to put groceries as well as GAS and heating oil on my credit card. Now I can pay interest on something that before this surge hit our country was not an issue for me.I don't know what we the working class are expected to do.Hard work and perserverance........is suppose to reap you the rewards of your labor.I am not getting that paying exorbitant prices for gasoline to get to work is a reward.It is up to you, the government officials, to protect us and do what is fair by us.Please help your people.Thank you.
Donna D., San Antonio, Tex.:
Rep. Scott Garrett R-NJ and all proud Republicans who are standing on the floor today to discuss our energy crisis, Thank you and God Bless you, please keep up the urgent cry to the Democrats “Come back and Vote” on our energy let us see where you stand…I am watching my mother who is on social insecurity only drive to the doctors office because gas costs to much, her limited income does not keep up with the cost of living, she is fortunate because she has a family who cares for her and we pick up the slack with out complaining but what about the elderly who do not have anyone and must suffer with increasing food prices, utilities, gas: This alternative fuel business does not help the poor.I don’t want anything from the government except what the constitution originally intended government to do.
Jan H., Location Unknown:
Please extend to Ms. Pelosi this comment -- that democracy is supposed to protect the people against the rise of autocratic rulers -- such as herself!How dare she turn off the lights and the microphones and take off for "vacation" and deny an up and down vote on offshore drilling… Please tell the Speaker for me that I am just one person among millions of other Americans who want Ms. Pelosi to step down from her high horse and take action to begin to represent what we want, and that we want it NOW!