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Prez and Co. up the drilling pressure on Congress

President Bush and his administration pressed Democrats to take up offshore oil drilling, but it doesn't look like it will be happening anytime soon.

Bush, after meeting with his Cabinet, noted that he called on Congress last month to lift the offshore drilling ban, but that Democrats are poised to leave Washington for the summer "without taking any action on this vital priority for the American people."

Bush noted he's lifted the presidential ban: "I've done my part. And that means the only thing now standing between the American people and these vast oil resources is the United States Congress...The sooner Congress lifts the ban, the sooner we can get this oil from the ocean floor to your gas tank."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi gave no indication she'll bring a drilling bill up for a vote. She has said oil companies already hold acres and acres of unused leases.

"The president has failed in his economic policy and now he wants to say 'But for drilling in protected areas offshore, our economy would be thriving and the price of gas would be lower,' " Pelosi said. "That hoax is  unworthy of the serious debate we must have to relieve the pain of consumers at the pump and to promote energy independence."

A Dem-backed proposal to crack down on oil market speculation died amid the partisan bickering. The proposal needed a two-thirds majority, but failed 276 to 151. Among the 61 Republicans voting against the party line, Miami Republican Reps. Lincoln and Mario Diaz-Balart and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.

The vote put them at odds with House GOP leader Rep. John Boehner, whom according to the Associated Press, called the bill "no substitute for a real bill on drilling." He accused Democrats of using the oil market speculation measure to "divert attention'' from their refusal to allow a vote on offshore oil drilling, AP reported.

It says the bill would have would have given new authority to the Commodities Futures Trading Commission to oversee oil markets, increased the agency's staff and set new requirements on certain trading. Market critics, including Florida Sen. Bill Nelson, have argued that excessive speculation has contributed to the soaring oil prices.

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