UPDATED -- A bipartisan federal budget deal reached Tuesday between members of the U.S. House and Senate to keep the federal government from shutting down, contains a little-known provision on drilling for oil and gas.
It would open up new parts of the Gulf of Mexico that have been off limits since 2000, according to the Huffington Post. It sets standards for both the U.S. and Mexico to undertake development in the Western Gap, and has already won approval from both the Obama administration and Mexico.
The deal has received some criticism from environmental groups. Even some lawmakers who aren’t exactly in favor of the plan are supporting it, pointing out that without the new law, there would be no rules when it comes to drilling in the area, because a moratorium on drilling in the area expires at the end of the year.
The House voted Thursday, approving the measure by a vote of 332-94, despite opposition from Republicans who say it doesn’t cut spending enough and Democrats who complain it doesn’t extend federal unemployment benefits for the long-term unemployed.
If the House passes the bill, then it will go to the Senate next week for a vote.
The legislation also reportedly fails to address the upcoming insolvency of the Highway Trust Fund, used to pay for federal road and bridge projects, but keeps spending for such programs at current levels.
Update adds House vote on Thursday.