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It's an example of the vast power placed in the office of the speaker, who sets the agenda for the 435 member House. Members can force a vote if enough of them sign a petition, but that's a rarity because it requires rank and file Democrats to line up against their boss.
public support for ending the ban, even in California, Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she won't allow a vote.
The congressional ban on offshore drilling has been in effect since 1981, but Congress must renew it each year. The issue could come to a head again in September, though Pelosi could make it tougher for opponents to kill the ban if she includes it in an omnibus spending bill that may be required to keep the government operating.
Pelosi made her remarks in a wide ranging interview with CNN, in which she grabbed headlines for saying Bush was "a total failure" who had lost credibility with Americans on his handling of the war, the economy and energy issues. She said Congress has been forced "to sweep up after his mess over and over and over again."
A plan to lift the ban on coastal drilling is stalled on Capitol Hill, for one simple reason: A Californian who opposes President Bush's proposal is calling the shots in the House of Representatives.
"When Americans go to the pump and are faced with gas prices well over $4 a gallon, it may be tempting to believe that lifting the ban on offshore drilling would bring immediate relief," Rep. Doris Matsui, Jordans Womens Size 9
Pelosi's Democratic colleagues in California are happy that the president's drilling plan is going nowhere, at least for now.
But Pelosi may be hard pressed to stand firm against lifting the moratorium. She's under heavy pressure from House Republicans, who have been unrelenting in their political attacks against the speaker, blaming her for gas prices.
On Friday, House Minority Leader John Boehner of Ohio called on Pelosi to stop "ignoring the calls of the American people." He said he would lead a delegation of 10 House Republicans on an "American energy tour" to Colorado and Alaska this weekend to put a spotlight on the refusal of Democratic leaders to allow drilling in Alaska and elsewhere.
Pelosi and other Californians have long cited the 1969 oil spill off Santa Barbara as the main reason for their opposition to drilling. The president's plan is Jordans Shoes For Girls Black And White opposed by California's three top leaders: Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Democratic Sens. Barbara Boxer, who heads the Senate environment committee, and Dianne Feinstein.
Support is even growing in California, where a majority of residents have long supported the ban. A new Field Poll survey shows that just 51 percent now favor the ban, compared with 56 percent in 2005.
Acknowledging her ability to influence decision making, Pelosi said in the CNN interview that she gets to operate differently from her Senate counterpart, Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada. Reid must reach out to Republicans to muster 60 votes to get anything done.
"Californians have learned the hard way how much damage environmental and economic can be caused by a major oil spill," Feinstein said.
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D Calif., said Friday. But she said Congress "cannot make rash decisions that will leave a legacy of irresponsible energy policy for our children and grandchildren to inherit."
In this case, Pelosi is going against a rising tide of public opinion. Faced with rapidly increasing gasoline prices, 73 percent of Americans now favor offshore drilling, according to a poll conducted by CNN/Opinion Research Corp.
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Pelosi vows to block offshore drilling
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