Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Down Goes ANWR Drilling

The Department of Defense appropriation bill, including the provision for ANWR drilling, was successfully filibustered by Senate Democrats today:
WASHINGTON - The Senate blocked oil drilling in an Alaska wildlife refuge Wednesday, rejecting a must-pass defense spending bill where supporters positioned the quarter-century-old environmental issue to garner broader support.

Drilling backers fell four votes short of getting the required 60 votes to avoid a threatened filibuster of the defense measure over the oil drilling issue. Senate leaders were expected to withdraw the legislation so it could be reworked without the refuge language. The vote was 56-44.

National security just does not seem to be an issue for the Dems. Having a reliable back-up supply of crude oil is a crucial part of fighting the war on terror and dealing with other problems that come from the OPEC countries. It should be non-negotiable. Nonetheless, the Dems have again blocked the ANWR issue.

Despite this unfortunate news from the Senate, there is some potentially good news as well:
Dec. 21 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. Senate approved a package of $39.7 billion in spending cuts to programs that benefit the elderly and poor, with Vice President Dick Cheney casting the tie-breaking vote.

The cuts, which are phased in over five years, affect programs such as Medicaid and student loans and are part of a Republican-led effort to narrow the budget deficit. Democrats succeeded in a procedural objection that requires the House, which adjourned for the year Dec. 19, to approve minor policy changes before the measure can be signed by the president.

Vice Cheney's decision to catch an early flight back from the Middle East proved to be a good one. Whenever Congress can push through a bill that cuts the budget, Republicans should be pleased. They should not be pleased, however, with the fact that Senate Democrats were able to make some last minute adjustments to the budget-cutting bill, forcing it to sit in limbo until the Senate resumes its business next year.

Because the bill was changed by the Senate, it must go back to the House for another vote, then back to the Senate for final confirmation.

Apparently the Dems were never taught that you're not supposed to be allowed to leave for the holidays until all your work is done. Who really cares if the defense appropriations or the budget cuts actually get out as soon as possible? Right?