The price of gasoline. That’s the number one issue for residents of Texas District 11, U.S. Rep. Mike Conaway (R) - Midland said after spending several days here last week.

“The energy issue is number one. That’s all anyone wanted to talk about,” he said. “This is the main issue on everyone’s mind, this energy thing.”

Conaway toured the district last week, including visits to Brownwood on Friday and Coleman on Saturday. He is back in Washington, D.C., this week to continue the floor protest on the American energy crisis to urge Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, to call a special session of Congress to vote on energy legislation that would allow for increased domestic drilling.

Conaway and 87 other Republican congressmen are currently taking turns speaking in the well of the House chamber after it was adjourned for summer recess on Friday, Aug. 1. Before the recess was to begin, 100 Republicans had signed up to make statements from the House floor urging House Pelosi to call for a vote to implement domestic drilling legislation. Those one to five minutes speeches would have followed regular House business on Aug. 1.

Conaway said that immediately after the adjournment, Republicans began inviting the public in to House chamber, and to sit at the desks on the floor, to hear them speak.

“What you see right now is a steady stream of red-blooded Americans,” he said of the experience. He joked at the Brownwood Area Chamber of Commerce luncheon last week that it was an odd feeling to have someone in the chamber actually listening to him as he spoke, rather than conducting other business at their desks.

Although the C-Span cameras and television lighting have been turned off, the chamber isn’t actually “dark” as some reports have described.

Conaway said that the recessed lighting and ambient light from outside keep the chamber as bright as it might be during a closed session.

“If they would have let us come to the well and vent our spleen, it would have been over,” he said. “Now it’s become a two-week story. We would like the Speaker to bring it to a vote.”

“Today’s debate is not about forcing people to like drilling for oil — it is about having a vote, and allowing the American people to express their will. We have the right to free speech in this country, and 651,000 people in West Texas have asked me to come to this place and speak on their behalf. Rather than debate a comprehensive energy policy, the Democrats have chosen to close the House and end the conversation,” Conaway said during a speech on the House floor Monday morning.

Even though gas prices have fallen in recent weeks, Conaway says that the price of fuel is still a concern around his district.

“Even at $3.50 a gallon, it takes a significant bite out of the family budget,” he said. “Families are still impacted today. We’ve gotten relief, but the prices are still high.”

With this year’s Republican National Convention a month away, Conaway said his constituents also have an opportunity to help shape the party’s platform. He has launched an interactive feature on his Web site that will allow Texans to submit their proposals for consideration by the Republican Platform Committee.

Each week in August, will feature a call for Texans to give their input on a different important issue facing our nation. Responses will be given to Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-California, who, along with Sen. Richard Burr, R-North Carolina, will be co-chairing the platform committee at the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis next month.

“I am excited about being able to give Texas Republicans an opportunity to build our platform,” he said. “It is important that we open up the political process to anyone who wants to be involved and continue to be a party ‘of the people’. I am encouraged by the response so far and look forward to continuing this campaign until the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis-St. Paul later this month.”