Effort To Curb Oil Speculation Stalls In Senate

WASHINGTON  — The energy stalemate between Democrats and Republicans continues on Capitol Hill.

Senate Democrats failed Friday to advance a measure to rein in oil market speculators, and rejected Republican calls to expand offshore oil production.

Democrats needed 60 votes to clear a parliamentary hurdle and bring their oil speculation bill to a final vote. They got only 50, as 43 Republicans held out for a separate vote on an amendment to allow offshore drilling on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. Democrats have refused to give them the opportunity, in both the Senate and the House.

Democrats say rapid increases in oil prices have coincided with big rises in trading on oil future markets.

Republicans say high gasoline prices are being caused by the basic economics of supply not meeting demand.

Yesterday, House Republicans scuttled a bill to release 70 million barrels of oil from a national stockpile, which Democrats said would lower gasoline prices.