Republicans on Thursday sought to lift a U.S. ban on new offshore oil and gas drilling and use related royalties to help finance road and bridge construction.
The plan, presented as a jobs bill and outlined by House Speaker John Boehner, would blend three energy bills into one infrastructure blueprint covering transportation upgrades over five years.
Boehner called the proposal for expanding energy production a responsible way to help pay for transportation programs, which are under financial pressure due to declining gasoline tax receipts.
The measure would also open part of the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge to oil exploration and set rules for extracting shale resources.
Boehner hopes to bring the measure up for a vote in the Republican-led House before the end of the year.
The Obama administration has proposed a modest expansion of offshore drilling. Lifting the drilling ban stands virtually no chance of passage, however, in the Democratic-controlled Senate.
A bipartisan $109 billion bill funding transportation programs with gas tax receipts for two years has been proposed in that chamber.
The Senate earlier this month rejected a $60 billion Obama administration stimulus proposal for creating jobs through infrastructure improvements.
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood would not comment on the House proposal in a conference call.
LaHood has been pressing former congressional colleagues to pass a long-term transportation funding plan to pay for needed infrastructure improvements.
The previous long-term law authorizing U.S. government spending on transportation programs expired in 2009. Construction has since been financed by a series of short-term extensions that leave states less able to plan and budget projects.
The current extension expires March 31.
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