Republicans are banking on a measure approved by the House on Thursday to lower gasoline prices by accelerating offshore lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico.

“The situation we find ourselves in today is detrimental to everyone who goes to the pump to fill their cars,” said Rep. Rob Bishop (R.-Utah). “The cost of gas increases, and continues to increase because of the inaction of this administration.”

The de facto moratorium on offshore drilling imposed by President Obama after the Deepwater Horizon tragedy last year has forced the importation of an additional 130,000 barrels of oil a day to make up for the lost production, Republicans say.

Democrats argued that the bill would lead to future environmental tragedies and insisted that more oil is being safely produced under President Obama than in President Bush’s administration.

Republicans countered that Americans are expected to spend an additional $700 on gasoline this year.

President Obama has since lifted the moratorium, but few permits are actually being approved, Republicans said.

“Unfortunately, the administration turned the tragedy into a catastrophe … one that destroys jobs,” Bishop said.

HR 1230, the Restarting American Offshore Leasing Now Act, passed the House by a vote of 266 to 149, with 233 Republicans and 33 Democrats supporting the measure.

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