12/21/2005 12:50 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Arctic Refuge in the Balance [Updated]

UPDATE:Thank you to all who called and helped out in response to my "Arctic Refuge in the balance." We won! The Senate cloture vote just failed 56-44 (they needed 60 votes to win) sending the Defense Appropriations Bill back to Conference with the House.


Today the U.S. Senate will vote on the FY 2006 Defense Appropriations Bill, legislation needed to fund our military. Cynically, Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska attached a provision to authorize drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to that bill in an unprecedented procedural move during the Conference between the House and Senate Bills at the eleventh hour last week.

This legislative maneuver to add something totally non-germaine to Defense on a must-pass bill is terribly disrespectful of our men and women in uniform who need to have the funding in the bill as we are at war. Never before has a Defense Appropriations Bill been held hostage like this for the personal agenda of a Member of Congress. It is just not done.

It is a simple problem to fix. Vote against cloture to stop the Defense Appropriations Bill, vote for a rule to take the Arctic Refuge drilling provision off the bill, have a new Conference with the House on Thursday, pass the clean bill, and go home for the holidays. Senator Stevens has said that that can happen if he cannot get Arctic Refuge drilling through this way.

Senator Arlen Specter is in an excellent position to help straighten out this travesty of legislative process by voting to block cloture on the bill and voting for a rule to strip Arctic Refuge drilling out of the bill so it can be passed clean. As a person who often calls for integrity in the government process, Senator Specter should stand up to this abuse of power by his colleague and vote to fix the bill. Pennsylvanians should call him this morning to urge him to do that. Senator Arlen Specter: (202) 224-4254.