The heat is on.
And 33 Democrats joined the House Republican majority yesterday to put the White House on notice that they take America’s energy independence seriously.
The Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives voted Thursday to approve a measure intended to jump-start drilling off Virginia’s coast.
It passed on a 266-149 vote, with 33 Democrats in the majority. Lease sales are the first step in a multiyear process that can culminate in drilling.
The Virginia delegation broke on party lines — eight Republicans voted in favor and three Democrats were opposed.
The Restarting American Offshore Leasing Now Act would direct the secretary of the interior to conduct offshore oil and gas lease sales off the state’s coast within one year of the bill’s enactment. It also would trigger lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico but exclude any tract off Virginia that would conflict with military operations.
Virginia’s lease sale was scheduled for this year but delayed until at least 2017 after the April-July 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, the worst offshore spill in U.S. history.
The bill was the first of three House measures meant to speed up drilling. None of the three is likely to pass the Senate, where Democratic leaders are more focused on ending tax breaks received by oil companies.
Heritage gives us a grim milestone reminder: