WASHINGTON — The Republican-held US House of Representatives on Thursday voted to defy the White House and expand offshore oil drilling amid deep voter anger at soaring gasoline prices.


Lawmakers backed the bill by a 243-179 margin, but it was unlikely to clear the Senate, where majority Democrats have called such efforts giveaways to oil companies a year after the massive spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

The move came with gasoline prices nationwide hovering at about $4, drawing warnings from President Barack Obama and Republicans that the fragile US economic recovery could be in danger.

The bill would open to drilling areas in the Outer Continental Shelf -- notably waters off California, Alaska, and the eastern US coast -- that are believed to contain the richest undiscovered deposits of oil and natural gas.