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Congress Girding for Oil Fight

Congress is girding for an oil fight that could shut down the federal government. Republicans are tired of being stonewalled by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and are planning to go on the attack when Congress reconvenes on September 8. At stake is the vote on domestic oil drilling that would allow offshore drilling in American waters.

Republicans want to allow offshore drilling and oil-shale development. Democrats don’t. Bans on both are set to expire at the end of September. Democrats are expected to include an extension of the bans in the temporary funding measure that Congress must pass when it returns. If Republicans vote to deny the extension by defeating the funding measure, the federal government will be forced to shut down on September 30 until Congress approves temporary funding.

Both sides of the aisle are playing hardball. Republicans say citizens squeezed by high gas prices and escalating grocery bills are ready to support offshore drilling despite the environmental risks. Democrats are banking that in an election year Republicans won’t want to disrupt government services, including veterans’ benefits, social security payments and government-backed home loans. It’s a game of political “chicken” with America’s coastline in the loser’s seat.