Wednesday :: Mar 19, 2003

Daschle Defeats Bush on ANWR-Domestic Agenda in Peril?

by Steve

With a GOP victory looming as late as last week, it now looks like Tom Daschle is about to stop the centerpiece of Bush’s energy policy, killing the ANWR drilling initiative. With the GOP Senate leadership predicting as late as last week that they had the votes to win, Daschle has managed to pull well over a half-dozen GOP Senators over to his side in opposing Bush on a high priority for the administration.

A simple question: just how much support is there for Bush and his policies amongst the Senate GOP caucus? When you have the moderates successfully holding off the right wing on Bush’s tax cut package, and now this, it begs the question. Also, by putting all his attention on Iraq and adopting a variation of the Rose Garden strategy in putting all domestic issues on the deep freeze, is it possible that he is losing steam on his domestic agenda as a result? The declining poll numbers for his re-election chances (see previous entry), based according to Gallup on issues other than war, shows that although the man is getting the usual pre-war bump in personal support from the voters, it is not translating into re-elect numbers.

Quite simply, if Bush sees his tax package cut in half or halted altogether, then you can kiss off the rest of his domestic agenda as well, now that ANWR is dead. Does the man really want to run on his Medicare drug benefit, when just days after whatever positive benefit he was hoping to get from his proposal he also announced the gutting of patient independent due process rights?

First ANWR, then a defeat on the tax package. Is Mr. Bush's domestic policy evaporating as fast as his foreign policy?

Update: The final vote to kill ANWR was 52-48, with five Democrats voting with Bush and 8 Republicans voting against him, plus Jim Jeffords.

Democrats who voted (for ANWR) were John Breaux and Mary Landrieu, both of Louisiana; Daniel Akaka and Daniel Inouye, both of Hawaii, and Zell Miller of Georgia. All five had voted in favor of drilling last year as well.

The eight Republicans who voted against oil development were Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, both of Maine; Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island; Gordon Smith of Oregon; Mike DeWine of Ohio; Peter Fitzgerald of Illinois; John McCain of Arizona, and (Norm) Coleman.

Are there any surprises in those votes? Why exactly is Mary Landrieu, now safely reelected, voting with Bush on this? And is losing Coleman, McCain, DeWine and even Smith surprising? Fitzgerald knows he is toast next year and doesn't care if he pisses off the president.

Steve :: 12:48 PM :: Comments (6) :: Digg It!