This was a vote on an amendment by Rep. Corrine Brown (D-FL) that would have permanently banned oil drilling in the eastern Gulf of Mexico. This amendment was 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).
Brown urged support for her amendment: “This amendment would not have any effect on the budget…However, it would have a significant impact on the economy of Florida, given that the state's tourist industry will be protected from future oil spills which could destroy our beautiful beaches and coastal areas. Certainly, Florida's coastline is a treasure, not just for Floridians but for all Americans and people throughout the world. For years, the Florida delegation has worked together to protect our coastline and natural resources, and as long as those rigs are in this area, the potential for devastation to Florida beaches persists. If an accident was to occur causing oil to wash ashore and to Florida beaches, both the environmental and the economic damage would be devastating to the State. And following the disaster off of Louisiana's gulf coast last year, we saw a quick glimpse of what could happen to Florida's economy in the event of an oil spill.”
Rep. Don Young (R-AK) opposed the amendment: “This amendment seeks to go backwards and single-handedly undo that agreement to close off forever the possible energy production in a portion of the Gulf of Mexico. This is exactly the wrong direction for America to be heading. Congress should not foreclose the possibility of future energy production. This is especially true in the eastern planning area of the gulf, which the Department of the Interior believes contains technically recoverable resources in the amount of 4 billion barrels of oil and over 21 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.”
The House rejected this amendment by a vote of 134-279. Voting “yea” were 129 Democrats—including a majority of progressives—and 5 Republicans. 222 Republicans and 57 Democrats voted “nay.” As a result, the House rejected an amendment that would have permanently banned oil drilling in the eastern Gulf of Mexico.