U.S. Senate Democrats failed to block a proposal in the 2006 budget bill that would allow drilling in the 1002 area of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
The Senate Budget Committee began work on a budget resolution yesterday that would count on $2.5 billion in revenue over five years from ANWR oil leasing.
Sen. Russ Feingold, a Democrat from Wyoming, asked the budget committee to strike the proposal. But with 12 Republicans and 10 Democrats the committee defeated Feingold’s amendment in a 12 to 10 vote today.
After the vote committee Chairman Sen. Judd Gregg said he included the ANWR language in the first draft of the resolution for reasons already expressed by Sen. Pete Domenici, a Republican from New Mexico who chairs the Senate Energy Committee.
Domenici pulled a provision to open ANWR’s coastal plain from an energy bill in 2003 because his party didn’t have enough votes to end an expected Democratic filibuster, a tactic used to block consideration of a bill. Sixty votes are needed to overcome a filibuster whereas a budget bill can’t be filibustered — it requires only 51 votes to pass. In the event of a tie, Vice President Dick Cheney, a proponent of opening ANWR, would cast the tie-breaking vote.
The House Budget Committee, chaired by Rep. Jim Nussle, R-Iowa, yesterday opted not to address an ANWR drilling initiative in its budget resolution.
The two budget resolutions, once passed by each chamber, will go to a reconciliation committee for negotiation of a compromise. They then must go back to the Senate and House for final acceptance.