Gingrich Wants House GOP to Pass Democrat-Backed Offshore Drilling Bill

Rob Bluey /

Speaking at Heritage this morning, former Speaker Newt Gingrich called on House Republicans to put politics aside and pass a new proposal from two Democratic senators that would expand offshore drilling off Virginia’s coast.

Gingrich suggested it should be one of the top priorities for the House GOP when lawmakers return in September. The plan would create jobs and add revenue to federal coffers — two points Gingrich made repeatedly throughout his speech on deficit reduction.

“One of the proposals I have,” Gingrich said, “is a proposal that the House Republicans take up the Webb-Warner bill and pass it. Don’t amend it. They could do this the first week they come back. … What does Harry Reid then do? Does he say that a bipartisan bill introduced by two of his Democratic members is unworthy of the Senate considering.”

The bill was introduced last month by Sens. Jim Webb and Mark Warner, two Virginia Democrats. It immediately won praise from Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, a Republican.

Gingrich, who launched the popular “Drill Here, Drill Now” campaign in 2008, said the move would challenge both Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and President Obama to finally act on a plan that promotes energy production.

Under Obama’s watch, offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico has declined drastically in the wake his bureaucratic policies imposed after last year’s oil spill. A recent study suggested the energy industry is ready to create as many as 230,000 new jobs next year if the administration simply approved the drilling permits necessary to put Americans back to work.

It was one of many suggestions Gingrich offered to the Republican lawmakers. His speech, which focused on the newly created Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, covered nearly every policy area as well the process for how business is done in Washington.

“House Republicans [should] focus on legislating and not negotiating,” Gingrich said at one point. “They ought to start every morning by scanning what Democrats introduce. If Democrats introduce a good idea, pass it.”