On The Road To 2008 - Commentary on issues as we countdown to the next opportunity to change the direction of America

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Reichert Backs ANWR Drilling - Cantwell Keeps Fighting

Dave Reichert blew it.

The same day he's supposedly being honored for his stance on environmental issues, and against drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Reichert votes to allow drilling in ANWR by voting for the bloated $453 billion defense appropriations bill.

ANWR drilling was added to the bill after the House had basically signed off on what it would contain. Alaskan congressmen Don Young, with the backing and assistance of chief GOP nuthead Senator, Ted Stevens, snuck the drilling legislation into the bill, and then gave voters no time to review the bill before voting on it in the middle of the early morning.

Reichert's defense?

Reichert's chief of staff, Mike Shields, said it was impossible to vote against a defense appropriations bill while the nation is at war. "We saw in the election last year that you have to support the troops," he said.
Firstly, it shouldn't have taken an election last year for Reichert to realize you need to support the troops, but more to the issue, Reichert still didn't have to vote for this bill as Adam Smith D-Tacoma, who voted against it, points out:

"If we had blocked this bill with ANWR in it, we would have come back immediately with another defense appropriations bill to replace it. We would not have shut down."
But perhaps Reichert simply didn't want to miss the private reception in his honor, ironies aside. Regardless, Reichert said "screw you!" to his constituents by voting for this bill in favor of ANWR drilling.

Meanwhile, WA Senator Cantwell has vowed to put up a fight in the Senate, in what will be a much closer vote.

She said she intends to debate the "secret" manipulation of congressional budget rules and "Machiavellian" maneuvers that led to ANWR landing in the defense bill after being pulled from earlier legislation.

The House previously tried to stick it in a wider budget bill aimed at cutting the deficit.

"This is an affront to the process, a backdoor way of doing things," she said. The House's work on the defense bill technically ended Friday afternoon with an agreement by House leaders from both parties. ANWR was not in the bill at that time. But later members heard that Stevens and Young wanted to add the ANWR measure.
Ted Stevens seems to be looking forward to a fight. The man has no qualms about pissing all over the Senate rules and procedures, and he seems to be energized by an ongoing fight with Cantwell on various matters.

And Cantwell is up for the challenge:

I have told the Senate that I oppose the backroom deal to add the Arctic drilling provision to a critical military spending bill that provides our men and women in uniform with the resources they need to keep us safe.

Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska is trying to jam drilling in the Arctic Refuge through the Senate, over the objections of a majority of senators. Last month, Democrats and Republicans in the House blocked a similar plan, but Senator Stevens is trying again. This time, he's attached his misguided drilling legislation to the Defense Appropriations bill, the primary military spending bill for our troops, and has vowed to keep the Senate in session until his drilling bill is passed.

Arctic drilling is bad energy policy, bad environmental policy and even worse defense policy. Destroying America's last great wild frontier only does a disservice to our men and women in uniform and fails to solve our nation's energy problems or lower skyrocketing heating prices.

We can't let him get away with it. We have to show Senator Stevens that enough is enough. It is unacceptable to attempt to salvage drilling legislation by attaching it to a measure that is so important for our troops on the ground in Iraq. Funding for the troops cannot be held up by this blatant political maneuver.

I need your help.

Sign the petition

Please join me in signing this petition asking the United States Senate to stand up and fight back against the Republicans' political games with our troops. The Defense Appropriations bill has important provisions that should be allowed to proceed without backroom deals like Stevens' ill-advised Arctic Refuge drilling plans.

Please sign this petition and forward it on to your friends and family. I intend to fight this battle to the end and I hope I can count on you to stand by my side.


Maria Cantwell
In addition, she took to the Senate floor on Monday and made a forceful statement against the inclusion of ANWR drilling in the defense appropriations bill:

What the American people want is for us to do our job and send money to the troops and get them home. They do not want to sit and watch us stay here for 3 or 4 more days to continue to complain about this process. What they want us to do is pass legislation that gives the troops the support they need. Let us give the troops the money they need to make sure that 800,000 barrels a day are protected right now. Let’s do a better job of making sure we’re making the right infrastructure investments, which will help everybody. Let’s make sure that gets done.

But this Senator still remains in opposition to drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, because you can't tell me that 5,504 spills on an annual basis in the North Slope since 1996 is a good track record. You just can't tell me that all those oil spills in the Prudhoe Bay area and near the Trans-Alaska Pipeline constitute a good enough track record to now say you can open up drilling in an Arctic wildlife refuge and have no impact. Last year, those spills totaled more than 1.9 million gallons of toxic substance, mostly crude oil and diesel.

We know where this is heading. We know where it is heading with no great result for the United States. We are not going to see any oil for a long time. It is a time in which the United States should be making an investment in diversifying off of our dependence on oil instead, and supporting our troops.

This Senator plans to talk a long time about this issue. This Senator knows that we could be going home today, having finished our work, having a session that is ended, having Members back at home talking to their constituents and having the troops realize that we didn't play politics with their legislation.

I hope we will get about doing business here today and closing this legislative session. That’s what we should be doing instead of figuring out what three or four other rules in the process need to be broken just to try to pass ill-conceived legislation that we have been battling over for 25 years. Let us not hold the troops' money hostage. Let's pass this legislation in a clean fashion and get home to our families.
What a difference in true leadership than that of the yellow bellied Reichert, who is nothing but a pawn to Republican schemes. His two year attempt at being a representative of the values of the residents of Washington's 8th District can't come to an end fast enough, and when his judgement day arrives next November we will be making sure no one forgets how he voted to allow drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

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