The legislation would require the Interior Department to hold lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico and off the Virginia coast, set a timeline for review of pending offshore permit applications and extend leases in the Gulf for one year, among other things.
In his floor remarks, McConnell cast the bill as a modest "first step" in the Republican energy strategy.
“This bill isn’t our last on this crisis. We could do a lot more to increase production here at home — and we should," McConnell said. "But it offers solutions. And every provision in this bill has bipartisan support."
“At a time of near-record gas prices, this is a modest approach, a good first step that takes everyone’s concerns into account, so that we can actually achieve a practical result," he said.
But the bill is too modest for at least two drill-state lawmakers. Louisiana Sens. Mary Landrieu (D) and David Vitter (R) said Tuesday they will vote against the bill because it does not go far enough to expand domestic drilling and would put an additional layer of review on oil-spill response plans.