WASHINGTON -- The Senate, jittery about a political backlash over the rising price of gasoline, voted by a veto-proof majority today to halt deliveries to the Strategic Petroleum Reserve over President Bush's objections.
The House is expected to follow suit later [Tuesday].
The action, supported by the Democratic and Republican presidential candidates, comes as high fuel costs have contributed to the nation's economic woes and become a hot issue on the campaign trail. It could be the only legislation that Congress passes this year in response to public angst at the fuel pump because of the parties' differences over energy issues.
The Senate measure passed 97 to 1, with Sens. Barack Obama of Illinois and Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York breaking off from their campaigns to return to the Capitol to vote for the measure. Sen. John McCain of Arizona, the presumptive GOP presidential nominee, supported the measure but was absent for the vote, continuing his campaigning in the Pacific Northwest.
"Why on earth should we be putting oil underground at a time of record high prices?" Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.), the measure's chief sponsor, argued.
-Los Angeles Times