House votes to end offshore drilling ban.
WASHINGTON - Congress on Thursday took a major step toward allowing oil and gas drilling in coastal waters that have been off limits for a quarter-century, but a battle looms in the Senate over the issue. And the Bush administration?s support for the legislation, which was approved by a 232-187 vote in the House, is lukewarm. The House bill would end an Outer Continental Shelf drilling moratorium that Congress has renewed every year since 1981. It covers 85 percent of the country?s coastal waters - everywhere except the central and western Gulf of Mexico and some areas off Alaska.