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Drilling dispute stalls Appropriations

June 27, 2008 at 1:40 AM

WASHINGTON, June 27 (UPI) -- The chairman of the U.S. House Appropriations Committee ended Thursday's meeting when Republicans tried to force a vote on offshore drilling.

Rep. David Obey, D-Wis., said he would not "be blackmailed by anyone," Politico reported. Obey's hasty adjournment delayed votes on two major spending bills.

Rep. Jerry Lewis, R-Calif., offered a bill that would limit restrictions on offshore drilling as an amendment to the 2009 spending bill for Labor, Education and Health and Human Services departments.

"If Jerry Lewis wants to be the chairman of this committee, he can get 35 additional Republicans elected so he can take the chair," Obey said after the meeting. "Until then, we're running the committee. And we're setting the agenda."

Lewis and Rep. John Peterson, R-Pa., accused Obey of reneging on a promise to bring the drilling bill up for a vote. They argue that allowing more drilling for oil offshore will bring prices down.

At least one Republican seemed to see both sides playing politics.

"They tried to put Obey in a box, and he doesn't take well to that," Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, told Politico.

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