As gas prices rise, the topic of offshore drilling is rapidly becoming an issue going into the November elections. John McCain has recently come out in support of offshore drilling and Barack Obama is against it. Public opinion is favoring McCain's stance
Gas prices have soared over the last year and as the totals at the pump become apparent to the voting public, their opinion about offshore drilling has shown that the majority, in a variety of recent polls, want Congress to lift their ban on offshore drilling.
Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi and the Senate Majority leader Harry Reid have been refusing to allow bills that pertain to the issue to come up, which has caused gridlock in the Senate as Republicans fight to have amendments dealing with the issue, be heard.
Republicans, for the most part, have united behind McCain regarding offshore drilling and some blue dog democrats, have indicated that will vote for it as well, which spawned reports that Pelosi was facing a "rank and file" threat.
This forces Pelosi and Reid to use procedural maneuvers to stop the issue from coming to a vote.
This puts them smack dab against the rising numbers and the majority of Americans that are ready for the ban against offshore drilling that has been in place since 1981, to be lifted.
Starting with the June 19, 2008 Rasmussen poll, it shows that 62 percent of Americans agree that offshore drilling should be allowed, with only 27 percent not agreeing.
Zogby International's numbers, taken seven days later, show an even larger majority (74 percent) support offshore drilling.
That includes 90 percent of Republicans and 75 percent of Independents and among Democrats, the majority with 58 percent support offshore drilling.
Zogby International Offshore Drilling Poll
A vast majority of likely voters, across the political spectrum are in support of offshore drilling, which pits the Democratic leadership against the will of the people.
In a recent CNN poll a plurality (49 percent) said that the environment was more important than the economy, yet in that same poll 73 percent of those surveyed said they favor increased offshore drilling for oil and natural gas.
A polling organization that have done the numbers for Florida has also come up with a majority showing a preference for offshore drilling, even in their own state.
The InsiderAdvantage/Poll Position asked Florida voters, "Do you favor or oppose increased exploration and production of oil and natural gas off the coasts of Florida?"
61 percent were in favor of exploring the coast of Florida for oil and natural gas.
President George Bush has stepped up the pressure on Congress by lifting the presidential ban on offshore drilling and called on Congress to lift theirs.
John McCain and many Republicans, seeing the concern of citizens and a politically winning issue, have done half of a flip flop on the issue. I say half because McCain is against the majority that believe that ANWAR should also be explored, but with the rising costs of gas, food and inflation in all areas connected with the cost of gas, rank and file Republicans united behind McCain on this issue.
Blue dog Democrats aka Democratic Blue Dog Coalition are Democratic politicians who do not always vote according to party line, but instead try for a more centrist position and they are the threat to the Democratic leadership of the House and Senate because they are increasingly starting to support offshore drilling.
This not only pits Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid against the the will of the people, but also is causing tension within the Democratic party.
To overcome the Democratic leaderships refusal to bring the offshore drilling bills up for a vote, the Republicans are countering that by using their own procedural motions to see to it that no bill will come up until Congress and the Senate allow debate and vote on their amendments for offshore drilling.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) states, "We think there is nothing more important that we can do right now than to deal with the Number One issue of the country. This is the biggest issue since terrorism right after 9/11. People are pounding on their desks, saying, Why don’t these people get together and do something about this problem?”
The battle in the House has been intense as Pelosi has failed to get the two-thirds majority needed to pass Democratic bills under a suspension of the rules, which limits debate on the issue and prevents Republicans from offering drilling amendments.
Republicans blasted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi from bringing up the bill under regular order, where a simple majority would have been required to pass the bills, but Republicans would have been able to offer amendments calling for increased domestic drilling.
Boehner says of the Democrats, "They're hiding from a vote. They're scared to death to allow us to ... force their members to vote on drilling."
On the other side of the aisle Democratic Representative Ed Markey says, "Republicans are holding the SPRO hostage. They are not going to allow [any oil] to be released until they get everything they want. And that is a very sad state of affairs."
The tensions are also rising in the Senate and it was reported last week that Harry Reid lashed out at the media saying the medias reports on the state of the Senate's energy fight had been improperly relayed to the public and accused them of only reporting what the Republicans were saying and suggested to the reporters gathered that they should start watching the Senate proceedings.
When a reporter pointed out that she had been watching the Senate proceedings and still could not fathom what Reid was offering Republicans by way of amendments, Reid replied, "Turn up your hearing aid. It was clear for those of us who understand English."
The Politico reports that even Democratic aides are admitting that Harry Reid is "bitter".
Reid has also taken to asking liberal bloggers to help him get his message out.
With the November presidential election just months away, politically the Republicans see this as a winning issue with House Minority Leader John Boehner, (R-OH.) stating, "I've never seen the American people as energized about an issue in my 18 years in Congress."
With the recent polling data showing that an overwhelming majority of Americans are stepping up and stating they are in support of offshore drilling, this seems to be putting the Democratic leadership in the minority by blocking amendments and votes regarding this issue.