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Summer 2005 - Act•ionLine

by Bill Dollinger | Summer 2005

Congress Attempts Budget Strategy to Open Arctic Refuge to Oil Exploration and Drilling

On April 28, Congress maneuvered to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge’s coastal plain to oil drilling through a process known as “budget reconciliation.”

Through budget reconciliation, Congress creates a blueprint to reduce federal spending. The House and Senate provide instructions to 16 committees to cut spending or increase revenue by specified amounts in their respective jurisdictions. Among those committees are the House Resources Committee and the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, both with jurisdiction over Alaska’s Arctic Refuge, and its ecologically important coastal plain that’s home to more than 200 species of birds and other animals.

Each committee writes legislation to meet the budget cuts, then submits it to the budget committees no later than September 16, 2005. The House and Senate budget committees bundle all of the legislation into what is known as the Omnibus Reconciliation Bill, which they present to Congress for final passage.

At an April 28 press conference, New Hampshire’s Senator Judd Gregg confirmed that the budget resolution would permit the Senate to push the Bush administration’s drilling proposal in the filibuster-proof budget reconciliation bill.

A filibuster requires 60 votes to close off discussion before legislation can be passed. The budget reconciliation process allows no more than 20 hours of debate, thereby requiring only a simple majority vote to pass.

In the House and Senate, the April 28 vote was largely along party lines, with some moderate Republicans taking a stance against drilling. Republicans who stood strong for the Arctic Refuge: Representatives Charles Bass (NH), Sherwood Boehlert (NY), Michael Castle (DE), Nancy Johnston (CT), Timothy Johnston (IL), Jim Leach (IA), Frank LoBiondo (NJ), Jim Ramstad (MN), Jim Saxton (NJ), Christopher Shays (CT), and Russell Simmons (CT) in the House; Senators Lincoln Chafee (RI) and Mike DeWine (OH) in the Senate. For a full breakdown of the House and Senate votes, visit our Web site at www.friendsofanimals.org/refugevote.html, or phone Bill Dollinger at 202.296.2172.

Although drilling proponents would have the public think otherwise, the fate of the Arctic Refuge has not been sealed. It is important for your legislators to hear from you to keep oil drilling out of the Omnibus Reconciliation Bill, which may be voted on in early fall.

What you can do

Please call or write your Senators and Representative and press them to oppose any budget reconciliation bill that opens the Arctic Refuge to oil drilling. You can locate your Senators and Representatives, including district offices, at http://www.congress.org

Address:

The Honorable ________
United States House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515
Congressional Switchboard 202-224-3121

The Honorable ________
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510
Congressional Switchboard 202-224-3121

Bill Dollinger

Act•ionLine Summer 2005

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