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 CantwellGOP seeks health care reboot after 2018 losses Climate movement should focus on winning 2020 presidential election Senate poised to kick land bill fight to January 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 MurkowskiKaine to force Senate to hold rare Saturday session amid shutdown Senate rejects government-wide ban on abortion funding Senators look for possible way to end shutdown 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) ManchinSenate rejects government-wide ban on abortion funding Centrist efforts to convince Trump to end shutdown falter Bipartisan group of senators will urge Trump to reopen government for 3 weeks MORE (W.Va.) voting against it. Republican Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsOvernight Defense: Trump unveils new missile defense plan | Dems express alarm | Shutdown hits Day 27 | Trump cancels Pelosi foreign trip | Senators offer bill to prevent NATO withdrawal McConnell blocks bill to reopen most of government Bipartisan senators reintroduce bill to prevent Trump from withdrawing from NATO 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.