Dems accuse GOP of playing politics with offshore leasing bill

"It appears that the majority's dislike of President Obama is so great … that they are about to actually vote against more oil and gas drilling offshore even in an era when President Obama has already demonstrated his commitment to drilling."

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Republicans were expected to hold votes on two bills dealing with offshore drilling. The first, H.R. 6082, would replace President Obama's five-year plan for allowing lease sales in the Outer Continental Shelf for oil and gas drilling. The GOP bill, which is expected to pass, would call for a more aggressive lease sales program, and also expand lease sales near Alaska.

The second bill, H.R. 6168, is expected to fail, as it would implement Obama's plan. Republicans offered the bill on Tuesday, and admitted during Wednesday debate that they brought it up to defeat it.

"I introduced this bill with a specific purpose of allowing the people's House to officially go on record as either endorsing the president's plan or registering its opposition to it," Rep. Doc Hastings (R-Wash.) said.

"While I am the bill's sponsor, I am going to vote against this bill. I oppose the president's plan. It's a giant step backwards for American energy production and job creation."

During debate on the bill reflecting Obama's plan, Democrats said they would support it, even though they knew it was being set up for failure. The bill is being brought up under a suspension of House rules, meaning it will require a two-thirds majority for passage, an unattainable goal given GOP opposition.

One Democrat indicated that Democrats may peel off the "Obama" bill because of how it was set up.

"I will vote for this," Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) said. "But I suspect that this bill will garner little support, and that's the reason why it was scheduled for consideration today."

Just before the final vote, the House struck down six Democratic amendments to the GOP bill:

• Rush Holt (D-N.J.), to strike language requiring the Secretary of Interior conduct a single multi-sale environmental impact statement for all of the new areas opened for drilling. Failed 163-253.

• Ed Markey (D-Mass.), to prohibit gas produced under new leases from being exported. Failed 158-262.

• Markey, to create a statutory requirement that leases offered under the bill would be required to include specific drilling safety modifications. Failed 189-252.

• Holt, to bar new leases to companies that have not renegotiated Clinton-era leases in the Gulf of Mexico to raise the royalty rates they pay. Failed 177-247.

• Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.), to require another report from the Secretary of the Interior on each well to be drilled under a lease to include the amount of expected oil and gas and the effect on gas prices. Failed 158-266.

• Hastings, to require a report for each oil well on the expected global impact from consumption. Failed 150-275.

— This story was updated at 2:07 p.m. to add the amendment votes.