"With rising gasoline prices and skyrocketing oil company profits as a backdrop, the House approved a bill on Thursday to force the Obama administration to accelerate oil lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico and off the coast of Virginia.
The 266-to-149 vote, largely along party lines, was a skirmish in the larger battle between Republicans and Democrats to capitalize on consumer anger over the price of gasoline, which has now passed $4 a gallon in most parts of the country.
The bill would reinstate auctions for the right to drill offshore, which have been pushed back by the administration to allow more time for environmental and safety reviews.
Opponents of the measure said that the Republican-sponsored bill, titled the Restarting American Offshore Leasing Now Act, reflected 'amnesia' about the dangers of offshore drilling barely a year after the Deepwater Horizon blowout killed 11 people and spewed about 200 million gallons of oil into the gulf.
Representative Nancy Pelosi, the House Democratic leader, said Republicans were pushing an energy agenda that benefited multinational oil companies without providing relief for American motorists. The five biggest oil companies reported more than $35 billion in profits in the first quarter of the year."