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Dems Challenge Bush on Executive Ban on Offshore Drilling

Josiah Ryan | Staff Writer | Friday, June 20, 2008

Dems Challenge Bush on Executive Ban on Offshore Drilling

On the Spot. (CNSNews.com) - President's Bush's call on Wednesday for Congress to lift its 27-year moratorium on offshore drilling is an "example of typical Bush White House politics," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev) told Cybercast News Service Thursday.

Other leading Democrats on Capitol Hill also said they were surprised that Bush has not yet rescinded the executive office ban on drilling, which was established by his father, President George H.W. Bush, in 1990.

"What the president is doing is unfair to the American people to indicate -'We will let Congress do something about it,' " Reid said. "He has the authority to do it himself."

"This is typical Bush White House politics. It's erroneous," Reid added. "He has the power, with the signing of a pen, to release more options for offshore drilling -- he has the power to do this."

Congress imposed a moratorium on offshore drilling in 1981 and has extended it annually each year for all coastal waters, except for parts of the Gulf of Mexico and some waters off the coast of Alaska.

In 1990, the elder Bush also implemented an executive ban, which was extended by President Clinton, to last until June 2012. If the current president were to rescind that executive order, it would be a symbolic move because the congressional moratorium would still disallow further drilling.

Several other Democrats suggested the president should rescind his father's executive order before calling on Congress to remove its moratorium.

House Ways and Means Chairman Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y) said he finds it "strange" that the president would maintain the executive order while telling Congress to lift the ban.

"It's very difficult for me to understand the thinking of the president," Wrangel told Cybercast News Service .

House Majority Leader Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), meanwhile, said the president has been back and forth on this issue, but that he should "probably" remove the executive order before directing Congress to eliminate their law.

But Sen. John Isakson (R-Ga.) told Cybercast News Service that while it would be "appropriate" for the president to rescind the executive order, the real burden is on Congress.

"He [Bush] is encouraging Congress to do it because that, in fact, vacates the current pending restriction on exploration," Isakson said. "We are sitting on a ham sandwich starving to death. There should not be a source available to us that we are not enhancing."

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