Tuesday :: Mar 15, 2005

GOP Senate Poised To Pass ANWR Tomorrow


by Steve

According to news reports, sometime tomorrow the GOP majority in the Senate will push through a vote on opening up the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge to oil exploration. As a payback for voters giving the GOP several more senators in the last election, the GOP likely has the votes tomorrow to succeed in passing a provision that will do nothing to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, or to add anything of significance to our oil inventories for nearly a decade, a provision that is opposed by a majority of voters in recent polls.

How is the GOP managing to pull this off procedurally? To avoid a Democratic filibuster, the GOP is going to attach this worthless piece of legislation to a budget bill tomorrow because the White House is willing to claim that the sale of leases in the ANWR will net $5 billion to the treasury. Democratic attempts to turn this bill into an actual national energy policy are going nowhere, as the GOP is shooting down attempts to add an increase in national fuel economy standards to the bill and other measures to broaden this beyond just another piece of GOP corporate welfare. Last year, it was the drug industry; this year it is the oil industry, and in both cases the legislation does little to address real policy needs or improve the lives of everyday Americans. Yet blowhards like GOP Senator Pete Domenici of New Mexico have the nerve to berate Democrats for voting against this bill while we have soldiers in the Middle East, as if this bill would do anything at all to prevent American soldiers from dying once again for Middle East oil.

Even with these shortcomings in the bill, there will be Democratic senators who vote for this bill tomorrow. Some votes may be explainable like Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, who is from an oil-producing state. I took my share of grief last week because I had the nerve to call out 18 Democratic senators for selling out consumers on the bankruptcy bill. It’s no big deal as I am only a blogger who is tired of seeing his party sell out its base and then complain that voters don’t see a difference between the parties. But since it’s possible that there will be more Democratic senators who will sell out tomorrow on an issue which is nothing more than oil company corporate welfare, who aren’t from oil producing states and who aren’t even up for election next year, I ask this tonight: shouldn’t these Democrats be held accountable for these votes, or do we only apply such rage against Republicans?

Sure, I am sensitive to arguments that we shouldn't strive for ideological purity to the degree that we shoot ourselves in the foot. And yes, ideologically pure Democrats are not electable in some parts of the country. But a political party has basic principles that can't be ignored for the sake of taking more campaign cash. I do expect the Mary Landrieus of the world to vote the interests of her constituents, even corporate, when those interests don't conflict with the interests of the consumers of their states. But shouldn't a senator's priority be to good public policy that benefits their constituents and actually solves problems, rather than being another excuse for a campaign contribution?

Steve :: 9:20 PM :: Comments (18) :: Digg It!