( CNSNews.com )- Senior Republican congressional aides told CNSNews.com that they believe the Democratic leadership may now roll the dice by allowing the ban on new offshore oil drilling leases to expire at the end of this month while planning to renew it early next year if they manage to win the White House and maintain control of Congress.

That would allow them to avoid a potentially politically damaging showdown over offshore drilling in the month leading up to the November election.

Such a tactic could succeed, the Republicans say, because no new drilling leases could be auctioned in intervening time.

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), meanwhile, suggested in an interview with CNSNews.com on Thursday that he was aware Democrats could allow the ban on offshore drilling to expire without immediately risking new drilling in domestic waters.

“Nobody’s going to be drilling offshore in the next three months,” Durbin told CNSNews.com .