(CNN) - Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid Monday surprised Senate Republicans by offering them the chance to vote this week on four GOP-backed energy measures, including offshore drilling.
The Senate has been gridlocked for days on an energy bill, as both sides argue over which amendments will be allowed.
Republican leader Mitch McConnell, in an exchange with Reid on the senate floor, said he was “very encouraged” by the proposal but said he would have to confer with his leadership team before formally responding to the offer later in the day.
Reid said Democrats would allow votes on GOP amendments that would permit new drilling on the Outer Continental Shelf; the development of oil shale in western states; construction of new nuclear power plants; as well as a vote on broader legislation Republicans have dubbed “drill more, use less,” which includes offshore drilling, conservation initiatives, the development of battery technology, and language to curb speculation in the oil futures market.
Reid said Democrats would offer four of their own proposals, but did not specify what those would be.
He said all amendments would need 60 votes to pass, a threshold that could make it difficult for any of them to succeed.
Republicans, buoyed by recent polls showing a majority of Americans support new offshore drilling, have said they are confident they can get more than 50 senators to support expanded drilling, if not the 60 votes needed to pass.
The possible breakthrough comes days before Congress recesses for August and lawmakers return home to face constituents anxious for relief at the pumps