Senate votes down effort to block drilling in Alaska refuge

Senate votes down effort to block drilling in Alaska refuge
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The Senate on Thursday defeated a Democratic attempt to block oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

A group of Democrats, led by Sen. Maria CantwellMaria Elaine CantwellAvalanche of Democratic senators say Franken should resign Week ahead: Trump expected to shrink two national monuments Live coverage: Senate Republicans pass tax bill MORE (Wash.), offered an amendment to the Senate’s budget resolution looking to prevent potential drilling in the Alaska refuge as a way to raise revenue for the federal government.

Most Democrats and environmentalists consider the refuge in northern Alaska to be too environmentally sensitive to allow oil drilling there, a position pushed by Cantwell and others as debate on the budget moved forward this week.

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“The notion that we, tonight, after 60-plus years, would give up what is a biologically important area, a critical habitat for polar bears, a breeding ground for caribou, migratory birds and over 200 species — for what? For oil we don’t need?” Cantwell said during floor debate late Thursday.

But Republicans said they wouldn’t take the possibility of drilling off the table as the GOP looks to raise revenue and boost the American energy sector.

“Those who would support this amendment will deny us the opportunity to do something constructive in this country, when it comes to our opportunities to produce energy, to produce wealth,” Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiMcConnell names Senate GOP tax conferees Week ahead: Trump expected to shrink two national monuments GOP on verge of opening Arctic refuge to drilling MORE (R-Alaska) said.

“We need to be expanding energy development in our federal areas. This helps us reduce our deficit, to build more wealth in this country, to strengthen our national security, our competitiveness,” she said.

The amendment failed 52-48, with Democratic Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinTrump rips Dems a day ahead of key White House meeting Senate panel moves forward with bill to roll back Dodd-Frank Wealthy outsiders threaten to shake up GOP Senate primaries MORE (W.Va.) voting against it. Republican Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsOvernight Health Care: 3.6M signed up for ObamaCare in first month | Ryan pledges 'entitlement reform' next year | Dems push for more money to fight opioids Study: ObamaCare bills backed by Collins would lower premiums Right scrambles GOP budget strategy MORE (Maine) supported the amendment.

The Senate’s budget directs the Energy and Natural Resources Committee to pass legislation raising $1 billion over the next 10 years.

The document doesn’t authorize drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, but it’s the most likely way to reach the $1 billion total.

President Trump and many Republican leaders support potentially drilling for oil in the refuge, and the White House’s budget proposal called for raising $1.8 billion in revenue through the endeavor.