Budget bill in Congress could derail ANWR drilling

pillars and dome of u.s. capitol
U.S. Capitol (Liz Ruskin/Alaska Public Media)

Democrats in the U.S. House want to use the budget process to reverse the 2017 law requiring oil lease sales in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

The ANWR reversal is part of the budget reconciliation bill debated in the House Resources Committee Thursday.

Budget reconciliation is a type of bill that can’t be filibustered in the Senate, so in theory it could pass there without any Republican votes. Rep. Jared Huffman, D-Calif., said it’s a fitting way to repeal the refuge leasing mandate.

“This is something congressional Republicans enacted as part of their 2017 tax cut legislation,” Huffman said. “It happened through budget reconciliation.”

Alaska Congressman Don Young sponsored an amendment to strike the anti-drilling section. He didn’t participate in the committee’s video proceeding. His spokesman said Young is in Alaska and had a prior commitment. 

The House Resources Committee is scheduled to vote on the amendment next week. Meanwhile, Senate committees will work on their own versions of the budget bill, and it’s not clear Democrats there will go along with their House counterparts.

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., chairs the Senate Energy Committee. He has previously voted in favor of drilling in the Arctic Refuge. He recently called on fellow Democrats to hit “pause” on reconciliation, which includes $3.5 trillion in spending.

Liz Ruskin is the Washington, D.C., correspondent at Alaska Public Media. Reach her atlruskin@alaskapublic.org. Read more about Lizhere.

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