Iowa Congressman Tom Latham was among the Republicans who took to the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives today, calling on Democrats to return to Washington for a vote on offshore oil drilling and other GOP energy ideas.

"I think the American people understand that we can no longer be sending $700 billion a year to foreign countries that don’t have our best interests in mind," Latham told Radio Iowa. "This is about this country going after American oil and natural gas…creating American jobs."

Republicans have been giving speeches on the House floor, without an active sound system, since August 1st, when Congress adjourned for a five-week recess. Tourists are being invited into the chamber to listen. Latham’s opponent in the November general election, Democrat Becky Greenwald of Perry, has questioned why Latham and other Republicans didn’t address the issue when they controlled the debate agenda.

Latham says his party did send a bill, containing the same proposals they’re pushing now, to President Clinton in 1997. "He vetoed it and there were enough Democrats that supported his veto of that energy act that it could not become law," Latham said. "The fact of the matter is what is holding up the whole process today is the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, and the Democratic majority will not allow a vote. That is the reality of the situation."

Latham, who lives in Ames, has been a member of congress for 14 years.