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WASHINGTON -- Despite securing majority support, a difference of 16 votes sunk House Democrats' efforts last week to require the Bush administration to release 70 million barrels of light crude oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to lower gasoline prices, The New York Times reported.
While Democrats maintained the initiative would provide more immediate relief for motorists, Republicans continue to push for the expansion of offshore drilling, calling the Democrats' plan short sided. The vote was 268 - 157.
"We need to do something to increase supply other than take it out of our savings account," Representative Lynn A. Westmoreland (R-Ga.), told The New York Times.
Democrats held their position that immediate relief is needed and Republicans are doing nothing more than the bidding of oil companies by refusing to take measures that would reduce profit margins.
"G.O.P, Gas and Oil Party," Representative Edward J. Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat, told the paper. "That's what this is all about."
This failed vote marks the third time in recent weeks that House Democrats received a majority for their energy-related bills, the report stated. However, they have not been able to advance legislation.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi maintained her position that environmental restrictions on offshore drilling are not causing high gasoline prices, but the policies of President George W. Bush's administration is where the blame should rest, according to the report.
"What the president would like to do is to have validation for his failed policy," Pelosi told the paper. "I'm saying that that's not something that will come easily to him. What we're saying is, exhaust other remedies, Mr. President."