This was a vote on a resolution setting a time limit for debate and determining which amendments could be offered to legislation requiring the Secretary of the Interior to auction leases for oil and gas drilling in the most oil-rich regions of the Outer Continental Shelf (specifically, those areas with more than 2.5 billion barrels of oil or 7.5 trillion cubic feet of natural gas).
Following the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, the Obama administration imposed an offshore drilling moratorium. The administration lifted that moratorium, however, in May 2010. Despite lifting the moratorium, however, Republicans argued that the administration had been too slow in approving leases for drilling, which in turn had contributed to high gasoline prices.
Rep. Bill Flores (R-TX) urged support for this resolution and the underlying bill: “Since President Obama took office, the national average price of gasoline has nearly doubled to $4 a gallon in most states, and the energy policies of the Obama administration have resulted in the loss of hundreds of thousands of barrels of domestic daily oil production….It is not too late to change our country's course of action and to begin to undo the damage done by these policies. The energy reserves off our coasts and under our public lands belong to the American taxpayers, and should be utilized in an efficient and environmentally safe manner to create jobs, to grow our economy, to lower energy prices, and to enhance our national security by reducing our dependence on foreign oil….This important legislation will require the Obama administration to expand access to areas offshore that contain the most oil and natural gas reserves. When we do so, we will improve our energy security and grow American jobs.”
Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) opposed the resolution and the underlying bill: “This bill here will do nothing, absolutely nothing, zero, to impact the price of gasoline. It does nothing. Everybody knows how Big Oil operates, and they do whatever they want to do. At a time when they're raising their prices, they're going to make more money this year than they did last year. It's outrageous what they're doing to the American people, how they're gouging the American people. This bill is not an answer to anything. It is just a sound bite for them to go home and say, hey, we did something, knowing it will never pass the Senate, but also knowing that even if it did pass the Senate and if the president signed it, it would mean nothing. So rather than focusing on things to help create jobs, to help make it in America, to help create more products in this country, we are going through these ridiculous exercises every week on different subjects; and today it happens to be a bill that is a big wet kiss to Big Oil.
The House agreed to this resolution by a vote of 243-179. Voting “yea” were 233 Republicans and 10 Democrats. 178 Democrats and 1 Republican voted “nay.” As a result, the House proceeded to formal floor debate on legislation requiring the Secretary of the Interior to auction leases for oil and gas drilling in the most oil-rich regions of the Outer Continental Shelf.