“Let’s get ready to rumble!!!!!!!”
It appears as if a contentious showdown is about to take place between House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R) and Florida freshman Congressman Francis Rooney (R) over offshore oil drilling in the eastern Gulf of Mexico.
Rep. Rooney, who has been the most outspoken member of the House to oppose lifting the ten-year-old moratorium off Florida’s coastline, is backing the newest energy bill coming out of the House National Resources Committee; the Secure Act.
2006 offshore oil drilling moratorium in Florida, which is set to expire in 2022, enjoys bipartisan support in the from the Florida congressional delegation, including Democratic Congressman Charlie Crist, who told the Shark Tank that he “vehemently” opposed lifting the ban.
While the bill contains provisions related to offshore oil drilling, the measure does not directly impact the moratorium Rooney wishes would be left alone.
Rooney wants to see language inserted into the bill that will “fix it for Florida,” and would like to see the ban extend, but better yet, made “permanent.”
But it appears as if the cogs in the machine are already spinning to possibly lift the ban, as the Department of Interior has already changed their interpretation of the language of the ban. This would allow for seismic geophysical testing now, a possibly clear indication that the ‘fix is in’ to lift it.
Rooney is not backing down from Scalise’s pressure to pass this bill along, calling him a “big time powerful guy” and signaling that he is ready to counter-punch against the Majority Leader, if needed.
When asked where he stood with House Leadership, Rep. Rooney replied, “not so good.”
“I didn’t go up there to make friends, I went up there to represent District 19.”
We then asked if he was feeling direct pressure from leadership, Rooney said that “they’re not super happy,” adding, “they can’t pressure me,” citing that this was the very reason he ran of office.
“I am going to push as hard as I can to get the Secure Act to take care of a fix for Florida extending that moratorium.”-Rep. Francis Rooney
“Try it, try it,” stated a defiant Rooney when asked if House leadership, who is notorious for pressuring freshman congressman to do their bidding, would attempt to pressure him to vote in favor of their specific interests.
“If I could defend refugee treatment, Iraq war and CIA renditions for three years living in Rome, I can for sure take this leadership…
You couldn’t ask for a tougher fight to take on, but I’m gonna take it on.”
It goes without saying that the congressional popcorn machine will be working overtime, as many on the Hill and around the country will love to sit and watch this energy title fight take place.