On June 5, Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-OH) took to the House floor and criticized Congress for refusing to lift the ban on offshore oil drilling. To strengthen her point, she claimed that even China and Cuba are drilling off Florida’s coast:
This very day, there is indeed the drilling activity off of our country’s coast. Not by our U.S. companies; that would be illegal. Instead, the Chinese are drilling off the coast of Florida, with their new energy partner, Cuba. This Congress has failed to act time and time again. Our oil resources along our coastlines and in Alaska remain untapped in the name of environmentalism.
Schmidt’s allegation is false. China is not drilling off the coast of Florida. Even Vice President Cheney, who also made the claim last week, put out a statement on Thursday admitting that he was wrong:
It is our understanding that, although Cuba has leased out exploration blocks 60 miles off the coast of southern Florida, which is closer than American firms are allowed to operate in that area, no Chinese firm is drilling there.
Conservative columnist George Will, who also made the claim in his June 5 column, today wrote a correction, stating, “[N]o Chinese company has been involved in Cuba’s oil exploration that close to the United States.”
Schmidt and other conservatives are refusing to back down, however. When asked whether she plans to issue a retraction, one of her spokesmen simply replied, “We will have a discussion.” House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH), Minority Whip Roy Blunt (R-MO), and Rep. George Radanovich (R-CA), who also made the false claim, have gone further and defended their statements.
Similarly, other conservatives continue to peddle the propaganda. Just yesterday, conservative pundit Mary Matalin made the claim both on CNN and CNN Headline News. A Fox News guest also repeated the lie yesterday on Neil Cavuto’s show.
,ThinkProgress spoke with a spokesman for Schmidt who said that the congresswoman is standing behind her statement and still believes that the “Communists understand” what the U.S. Congress doesn’t — “We need more oil exploration.” He added that “it doesn’t matter” which country is doing the drilling as long as Cuba continues to lease plots of land to foreign countries.