The Democrats' return to power is increasing pressure on House Republican leaders to accept a limited expansion of offshore oil and gas drilling.
Supporters of such exploration say the next Congress, probably will not tamper with the long-standing drilling bans that have protected most coastal waters for a quarter-century.
A stubborn standoff has festered for months between the House and Senate over developing more of the oil and gas resources in the Outer Continental Shelf.
The proposal is of great importance to Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Texas. They stand to reap hundreds of millions of dollars under changes to the way the government shares royalties from oil and gas taken from the Gulf of Mexico.
House Republicans pushed through a bill that would open coastal waters for drilling everywhere unless a state objects. That essentially would end a ban on such drilling.
House Republicans, however, have refused to consider the Senate version - until now, after last week's election that drove the GOP from power.
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