Steny Hoyer Worries About Another Government Shutdown

A showdown over Gulf of Mexico drilling could trigger a replay of the Clinton-Gingrich fights.

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On the plane from D.C. to Denver, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer seemed ebullient going into the convention, but fearful of what will come afterward. He told me there will be a contentious fight between the Democratic Congress and the White House over oil drilling rights in the Gulf of Mexico. The oil companies want access to the Gulf's entire 44 million acres of offshore oil fields. They currently have access to 10 million of those acres. Hoyer met with executives from all the major oil companies last Monday and they are backed in their desire for free access to the Gulf by the White House. Hoyer fears he may not be able to get a continuing resolution (which funds the federal government) through the House in time to keep the government running in the new fiscal year. That year starts October 1. What if there's a standoff? Hoyer says if it happens, and that's a big if, it'll last only a couple of days, and to look for a "Kabuki dance" between the White House and Congress as each tries to dodge blame for it. A budget standoff with the Clinton White House undid Newt Gingrich's speakership in the '90s.