In speedy deliberations, both houses of the U.S. Congress approved a compromise $2.57 trillion budget resolution late April 28 that allows oil drilling on the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
The resolution, H. Con. Res. 95, is a nonbinding plan that establishes federal spending for fiscal 2006, revises the budget for fiscal year 2005, and sets forth appropriate budgetary levels for fiscal years 2007 through 2010.
The measure emerged from conference April 27 and passed the House of Representatives in a 214-211 vote at 8:29 p.m. EDT April 28. But it was nearly midnight before the Senate concluded lengthy debate on the budget resolution and took a 52-47 vote.
Despite the apparent ease with which the measure moved through Congress, ANWR proponents are not yet ready to start dancing in the streets.
“Clearly, we’re pleased that the Conference Report passed both the House and the Senate,” said Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska. “This is a good sign, but we need to keep on working.”
Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, also applauded the action, saying the budget resolution included “a lot of good fiscal constraints.”
“It’s one more hurdle in the long fight to open ANWR,” she added.
“This is but the second step in a long process,” said ANWR lobbyist Jerry Hood. “There are still opportunities for a lot of mischief from the opposition before Congress is done.”
Congress is set to begin crafting budget legislation, using H. Con. Res. 95 as a blueprint, when it returns from spring recess May 9. Committees in both the House and the Senate will draft their own version of the budget during the summer and meet again to settle any differences, according to Stevens’ press secretary Courtney Boone.
A final budget bill is expected to reach President Bush’s desk in September.
Editor’s note: See story in May 1 issue of Petroleum News