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 CantwellPartisan politics at independent agency draws bipartisan rebuke Senators share their fascination with sharks at hearing Poll: Majority of Americans support Roe v. Wade 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 MurkowskiPolice arrest 128 protesting Kavanaugh on Capitol Hill GOP launches counteroffensive on Kavanaugh Kavanaugh protesters descend on Collins, Flake offices on Capitol Hill 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) ManchinThis week: Kavanaugh nomination thrown into further chaos GOP plays defense on ObamaCare’s pre-existing conditions Doug Jones to McConnell: Don't 'plow right through' with Kavanaugh MORE (W.Va.) voting against it. Republican Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsRosenstein faces Trump showdown Kavanaugh: I'm asking for a 'fair process' Collins: Second Kavanaugh accuser should speak with Senate panel under oath  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.