Sen. David Vitter, R-La., said he opposed the measure, similar to bills passed by the Republican House, because it didn't go as far as the House bills in opening new tracts along the Atlantic and Pacific coasts and in the eastern gulf for drilling, The (New Orleans) Times-Picayune reported Thursday.
The measure also included a provision that would have gone further than current Interior Department regulations and require a third party review of containment response provisions of any exploration plans.
"I think this is a completely unnecessary extra burden, extra hurdle, extra layer of requirement," Vitter said in his floor speech on the bill. "We need to make the permitting process smoother, more streamlined, more accelerated, not move in the opposite direction."
The measure failed on a vote of 42-57.
Other Republicans voting against the McConnell bill in addition to Vitter were Sens. Jim DeMint of South Carolina, Richard Shelby of Alabama, Mike Lee of Utah and Olympia Snowe of Maine.