This was a vote on an amendment that would have barred oil drilling within 5 miles of any of the Great Lakes or the Florida Everglades.
Rep. Kathy Castor (D-FL) offered the amendment to Republican legislation that would open vast new stretches of federally owned territory to energy exploration. She offered the amendment as a “motion to recommit.” A motion to recommit is the minority's opportunity to torpedo or significantly change a bill before a final up-or-down vote on the measure. If approved, the House Republican leaders would have been forced to add the amendment to the bill before allowing a final up-or-down vote.
Rep. Castor argued that Republicans’ advocacy for the bill was evidence of “blind passion for Big Oil.” She said the bill would jeopardize the tourism industry in her home state by allowing drilling “right off of the beaches of Florida.” She said her amendment would provide a “test” of whether Congress believed there was any place that is not appropriate to drill.
“Is nothing sacred in this country anymore? Is nothing off limits? How about Mount Vernon, George Washington's home? Would we drill there if Big Oil could make a few bucks? How about Gettysburg National Battlefield? I hear there may be some natural gas nearby,” Rep. Castor said. “There are places in America that are not for sale and should be protected.”
Republicans argued that Democrats were “playing politics” with the amendment. They argued that the Republican bill was a common-sense plan to develop domestic energy resources and reduce the nation’s dependence on foreign energy.
“This is one more example where the other side is playing politics with American energy and American job creation,” Rep. Doc Hastings (R-WA) said. “At a time … when Iran is threatening a global energy meltdown, the Middle East is undergoing numerous uprisings, China's thirst for oil is growing and our consumers are facing rising prices at the pump, it's time to secure our own future with American-made energy.”
Rep. Castor’s motion to recommit was defeated by a vote of 176-241. Voting “yea” were 174 Democrats and 2 Republicans. Voting “nay” were 232 Republicans and 9 Democrats. As a result, the House moved to a final vote on Republican legislation that would open vast new stretches of federally owned territory to energy exploration.