Fearing a filibuster from Democrats, Senate Republicans last week pulled a contentious provision calling for opening up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling from an otherwise agreeable defense spending bill. NecadaMinus the ANWR drilling rider, the $453 billion bill calling for money for troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and for Hurricane Katrina relief and avian flu protection passed uncontested by a vote of 93-0.
Trying to capitalize on an unprecedented majority in Congress, Alaska Republican Senator Ted Stevens reportedly attached the ANWR drilling provision to the defense spending bill so it would be harder for Democrats to oppose it. But Stevens and fellow Senate Republicans were at least 4 votes shy of the 60 votes needed to override a threatened filibuster.
Nevada Senator Harry Reid and other Senate Democrats had accused pro-drilling Republicans of trying to hold the U.S. military hostage over the ANWR issue, and expressed relief over not having to exercise the filibuster option.