- - Wednesday, May 11, 2011

HOUSE

Lawmakers pass oil drilling bill

The Republican-controlled House has passed another bill putting offshore oil and gas drilling on the fast track.

The latest measure, passed 263-163 on Wednesday, gives the government a maximum of 60 days to decide whether a company can drill. Thereafter, the permit is automatically approved.


There is currently no deadline for the permits.

Republicans fended off efforts by Democrats to boost safety, including recommendations from a presidential panel that investigated the massive Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Republicans say the Obama administration has acted slowly to approve drilling permits since the disaster. They note high gas prices require action.

Last week, the House passed a bill forcing lease sales the government had delayed.

Both bills are unlikely to pass the Senate. The White House also opposes the measures.

HOUSE

Obama pressed over Libya decision

Lawmakers of both parties pushed Wednesday for more information on why Congress was left out of the loop as the Obama administration weighed military action in Libya earlier this year.

The House Armed Services Committee, without dissent, approved a resolution giving Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates two weeks to hand over all material concerning the decision about how to deal with Congress in the month before President Obama ordered U.S. forces to lead U.N.-backed NATO airstrikes against Libya on March 19.

Although congressional leaders were briefed by phone in the hours before the president’s announcement that night, “a phone call can hardly be considered significant consultation,” said Rep. Howard P. “Buck” McKeon, the California Republican who chairs the committee.

The House Armed Services Committee voice vote on Libya came as it met to consider the annual defense authorization bill.

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