Republican seeks vote on drilling ban

Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) signaled Wednesday that he will seek a House vote to overturn the Obama administration’s six-month ban on deepwater oil-and-gas drilling that began in late May.

Democrats are unlikely to allow a vote on his amendment when their Gulf of Mexico oil spill response bill comes to the floor Friday.

But Cassidy’s effort nonetheless shows that opponents of the drilling freeze will use the House debate as a forum to attack what they call an economically harmful and unnecessary ban.

In addition to scuttling the existing ban, Cassidy’s amendment “would also guard against any future moratoria by stating that ‘No Federal official may establish any general moratorium on or suspension of offshore oil and gas operations that is substantially similar to the moratorium, the decision memorandum, or any suspension referred to in subsection,’ ” his office said.

The ban is under attack from many Republicans and Gulf Coast lawmakers from both parties. But administration officials say the pause is needed while new offshore safety requirements are implemented and investigations into the BP spill continue.