The Pressure Is Working

Nancy Pelosi was bound and determined to make sure that a vote on the issue of offshore drilling never reached the House floor.

That determination is rapidly falling by the wayside:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Monday night dropped her staunch opposition to a vote on offshore oil drilling in the House.

Republicans, reacting to high gas prices, have demanded a vote on additional oil exploration in the Outer Continental Shelf, where drilling is currently blocked by a moratorium. Until now, Pelosi (D-Calif.) has resisted the idea as a “hoax.” But in an interview on CNN’s Larry King Live, she indicated that she was open to a vote.

“They have this thing that says drill offshore in the protected areas,” Pelosi said. “We can do that. We can have a vote on that.”

She indicated such a vote would have to be part of a larger package that included other policies, like releasing oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, which she said could bring down prices in a matter of days.

“But it has to be part of something that says we want to bring immediate relief to the public and is not just a hoax on them,” Pelosi continued.

She even indicated that she might support a package that includes drilling. She said her decision on whether to support such legislation would depend on how the policies are packaged.

“It’s not excluded, let’s put it that way,” Pelosi said.

This is but the first hint that Republican efforts to highlight the Speaker’s intransigence have worked. There will doubtless be other indications as well. The beauty of this from the Republican standpoint is that the Democrats’ constituency will consider this a betrayal on the Speaker’s part, thus dividing the Democratic coalition. Additionally, if Democrats conspire to vote down efforts to drill offshore, Republicans have an issue to take into the fall. If the proposal passes, Republicans will take credit. It is win-win.

It just goes to show what a determined House Republican caucus can achieve. One can easily expect other efforts to push back against the Speaker’s agenda to cause her to reverse herself and to demoralize the Democrats’ coalition in an election year that may well be closer than conventional wisdom adherents think it will be.