The Senate recently voted 67 to 33 to support a compromise White House plan for new oil and gas drilling in the eastern Gulf of Mexico. Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida, who had opposed the earlier Bush administration proposal, is among the Republicans who have endorsed the compromise. The compromise plan would offer to energy companies the oil and gas rights to 1.5 million acres of undersea land in the eastern gulf, down from the 6 million acres originally proposed. Under the compromise, the area is not within 100 miles of the coast of Florida, meeting a requirement of Gov. Bush and most members of Florida's congressional delegation.

The proposed exploration area is off the coasts of Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana, whose representatives have backed drilling.