Congressional Democrats have decided to allow a longstanding ban on offshore oil drilling lapse this year. Democrats in the House have pulled a provision that would have extended the moratorium from a spending bill that needs to pass if the government is to run; President Bush had threatened to veto the bill if it included the ban.
By pulling the ban, the Democrats appear to have handed Republicans -- who made the chant "Drill, baby, drill" a rallying cry of their party's convention -- a victory. There's always the chance that the ban could be reinstated under the next president, but it will likely be harder, politically, to institute a new ban than it would have been to continue an old one.
As for the impact on the campaign, this really could go either way. On the one hand, this move takes the issue off the table, to some extent, and that could potentially help Democrats. On the other hand, this seems to be an example of what Josh Marshall once termed "the Republicans' Bitch-Slap theory of electoral politics." Ultimately, the Democrats backed down, and the GOP will do its best to remind voters of that fact in order to portray them as weak and spineless. House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) already took a step in that direction, saying, "If true, this capitulation by Democrats following months of Republican pressure is a big victory for Americans struggling with record gasoline prices."