NPR's Montagne reported that Democrats objected to ANWR provision, omitted Republican objections

››› ››› JEREMY SCHULMAN

On NPR's Morning Edition, host Renée Montagne reported that "Democrats" criticized Sen. Ted Stevens's (R-AK) effort to attach a provision allowing oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to a defense appropriations bill. In fact, Stevens's tactic received bipartisan criticism, including from at least five GOP senators and two House Republicans.

On the December 22 broadcast of NPR's Morning Edition, host Renée Montagne reported that "Democrats say" that Sen. Ted Stevens's (R-AK) effort to attach a provision allowing oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to a defense appropriations bill "was a particularly brazen example of using one piece of legislation to carry another." In fact, Stevens's tactic received bipartisan criticism, including from Sens. John McCain (R-AZ), Olympia Snowe (R-ME), Susan Collins (R-ME), Lincoln Chafee (R-RI), and Mike DeWine (R-OH) and at least two House Republicans.

On Morning Edition, NPR congressional correspondent David Welna reported that on December 21, the Republican Senate leadership was unable to garner the 60 votes necessary to end a bipartisan filibuster of the defense bill. Following the failed cloture motion, the Senate voted 48-45 to strip out the ANWR provision before passing the bill unanimously. Welna reported that Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV) "said Stevens was breaking the rules by putting the ANWR provisions on the defense spending bill."

Following Welna's report, Montagne introduced an analysis segment with NPR senior correspondent Juan Williams:

MONTAGNE: Let us start with the defense bill and ANWR, that would be, of course, Alaska drilling. Democrats say this was a particularly brazen example of using one piece of legislation to carry another, as we've just heard. Is this tactic so unusual?

But Democrats were not the only members of Congress to criticize Stevens's use of the defense appropriations bill as a vehicle for ANWR drilling. Two Republicans, Chafee and DeWine, participated in the filibuster, voting against cloture. As Media Matters for America has noted, a December 20 Washington Post article documented Chafee's objections: " 'It doesn't belong on a defense bill,' Sen. Lincoln D. Chafee (R.I.) said of the drilling provision. The moderate Republican said Stevens is misusing his authority as the sponsor of the defense spending bill, granting drilling 'a significance that is out of proportion. It's just not fair.' " A December 21 Associated Press (AP) report noted that DeWine said the defense bill should be "a clean bill."

Several Republicans who voted for cloture but then voted to remove the ANWR provision from the defense bill also criticized Stevens's tactics. As The Washington Post reported on December 16, McCain "sharply criticized Stevens's effort as 'disgusting.' But asked how he would vote on such a bill, McCain said: 'That's the dilemma. I'd have to look at the whole bill. I think it's disgraceful that I have to be put in that position.' "

A December 22 article in Portland, Maine's Portland Press Herald, noted that Snowe and Collins "harshly criticized the way legislative leaders incorporated drilling in the unrelated military measure" and that Collins referred to Stevens's move as an "abuse of the legislative process."

In addition, the AP noted on December 19 that Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN) said of the ANWR issue: "I'm angry at the way this has been handled, that we're forced to revisit this issue again and again."

At least two House Republicans also criticized the inclusion of the ANWR provision in the defense bill. House Science Committee chairman Rep. Sherwood L. Boehlert (R-NY) stated that the ANWR provision "never, never, never should have been added on as an extraneous matter to a bill to fund and pay and equip our troops." And in a December 16 statement, Rep. Joe Schwarz (R-MI) said of the defense bill: "It is utterly despicable to be put in a position of choosing between funding our troops and opposing bad public policy. ... [T]he American people expect Congress to take a hard look at legislation before it and to reject proposals added at the last possible minute and which have absolutely no relation to the true purpose of this legislation."

Posted In
Environment & Science, Drilling
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