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Ros-Lehtinen, Diaz-Balarts side with Dems on DRILL bill

Florida GOP'er Adam Putnam called it "sham legislation." House Republican leader John Boehner went even further, lambasting it as a "sham wrapped in a hoax."

But Miami Republican Reps. Lincoln and Mario Diaz-Balart and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen apparently didn't see it that way. The three -- facing significant reelection challenges -- were among just 26 Republicans who sided with Dems and voted for a bill Democrats claim would boost domestic production of oil and gas.

Republicans successfully thwarted the bill -- at least for now -- with Alaska's Republican Don Young calling it "nothing more than a feeble attempt to fool the American people into believing that the Democratic leadership in Congress actually supports more drilling."

The bill - which had the backing of all the state's Democrats, was co-sponsored by Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa. Democrats say it would spur more drilling by imposing a "use it or lose it" provision on oil companies, forcing them to drill in areas they already lease.

The industry hailed the collapse of the legislation saying it would do little because it doesn't recognize that there are valid reasons for not developing every lease -- including lack of supply. Democrats are under pressure to address rising gas prices; President Bush upped the ante earlier this week by lifting a presidential ban on drilling in federal waters off the US coastline.