- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 10, 2001

Senate Republicans are set for a showdown over oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, putting Democrats in the awkward position of filibustering their own economic-stimulus package.
Key Republicans are frustrated with Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle for blocking President Bush's energy plan, and said yesterday they will attach the oil-drilling rider to the Democrats' economic-stimulus plan when it comes up for debate next week.
Reducing the country's dependence on foreign oil has become the top priority for Republicans, who say drilling in the ANWR is now a matter of national security and the most important issue to be voted on this year.
"The stability of some of the nations principally responsible for supplying oil to the United States can no longer be taken for granted," said Sen. Ted Stevens, Alaska Republican and ranking member of the Appropriations Committee.
The United States imports an average of 700,000 barrels of oil a day from Iraq, and its third largest supplier, Venezuela, has criticized this country for its bombing campaign in Afghanistan.
Earlier in the week, Minority Leader Trent Lott, Mississippi Republican, threatened to attach the drilling rider onto "anything that moves" through the Senate.
"I think the American public is waking up to the ANWR problem. We're going to offer it," Mr. Stevens said. "I'm deeply disturbed about our continued reliance upon [Iraqi leader] Saddam Hussein's oil."
Democratic Massachusetts Sens. Edward M. Kennedy and John F. Kerry have vowed to filibuster any measure containing the drilling provision. If they fulfill their promise, Mr. Stevens said it "would be the first time in history we've had a filibuster against a national-security issue involving energy."
Mr. Kerry said the Republican strategy is to pass "a decade-old partisan agenda" and said the oil supply will not protect public safety or strengthen the economy.
"I'd like to see them stop dividing America for a partisan cause, and start doing what is in the national-security and economic-security interests of our nation," Mr. Kerry said.
"I think we can find a better definition of patriotism than tapping public anxiety to pass bad public policy," Mr. Kerry said.
Congress should instead build a natural-gas pipeline in Alaska and "get serious about declaring real energy independence through alternative and renewable technologies so we're free from foreign oil," Mr. Kerry said.
The issue of drilling in the ANWR has split the Democratic Party's core constituencies environmentalists and union workers. Green groups oppose drilling, while union leaders support it for the estimated 735,000 jobs it will create.
Mr. Bush Thursday night renewed his call on Congress to pass his energy policy to "make America less dependent on foreign oil." He also told the crowd of 5,000 gathered at the Georgia World Congress Center that a stimulus plan must be "put into law to help the American people."
However, Senate Republicans oppose the Democrats' economic-stimulus proposal, which they say is stuffed with pork-barrel spending and would not help the economy, and the White House is threatening to veto the bill.
The $64 billion spending plan passed out of the Finance Committee Thursday night on a party-line vote and includes farm subsidies, tax-exempt bonds for Indian tribes, tax deductions for Hollywood film studios and other spending for committee members.
Republicans support an $89 billion stimulus package made up mostly of tax cuts for businesses and workers, which Democrats say provides too many corporate tax breaks.

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide