Speaker Pelosi Considers Drill Vote

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Speaker Pelosi Considers Drill Vote

WASHINGTON -- In what amounts to a break from her steadfast position, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi indicated today that she might support a vote on Outer Continental Shelf and oil shale drilling, Fox News reported.

In recent months, Pelosi and Democratic Party leaders have blocked Congressional Republicans who have repeatedly called for the vote.

Pelosi, speaking Monday on CNN’s "Larry King Live," said "We can do that. We can have a vote on (oil drilling)."

The Hill newspaper reported that Pelosi indicated a vote would be part of a larger packaged deal that includes one of her leading issues, releasing oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. This initiative, she said, would reduce gasoline prices immediately, whereas, she says, oil drilling might never reduce prices.

"But it has to be part of something that says we want to bring immediate relief to the public and is not just a hoax on them," Pelosi told the paper. According to The Hill, she said she might support a package that includes drilling: "It’s not excluded, let’s put it that way."

Current bans on the Outer Continental Shelf and oil shale drilling expire on the first day of the coming fiscal year: Oct. 1., a day Senator Jim DeMint, R-S.C., has renamed "American Energy Freedom Day."

"The overwhelming majority of Republican Senators have pledged to protect October 1 as American Energy Freedom Day so we can reduce dependence on foreign oil and lower the cost of gas at the pump," DeMint said in a released statement.

"Many people aren’t aware that the bans on drilling must be renewed every year, and all we have to do is allow these prohibitions to expire on October 1. In just 50 days, Americans will have the freedom to pursue their own energy resources here at home. Our letter is very straightforward: we will actively oppose any effort to extend the bans on offshore drilling and oil shale," DeMint added.

The forthcoming date is highly anticipated as opposition leader like Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., looks to hold their ground. In response to DeMint, Reid spokesman Jim Manley told Fox News: "Isn’t this the same day that Republicans would be endangering the delivery of Social Security checks because of their misguided attempts to promote energy policies that will do nothing to deal with the short term problems facing the country?"

By stalling a vote on drilling, Reid and Pelosi have drawn fire from opponents. Reid told Fox News that he intends to try to renew the bans when Congress returns in September. To pass his version, Reid will need a filibuster-breaking 60 votes, which could prove insurmountable.