The Big Spin
Funny how quickly people try to obfuscate what happened today in the Senate. From the Bayou Buzz:
What today’s Senate vote proved by a small margin is that the distaste for ANWR drilling and the dislike for the method in the way that Senator Stevens allegedly attached the controversial legislation to the Defense Appropriations was greater than the Democrats’ concern for those on the Gulf Coast who need certainty in their lives more than anything else during this holiday season.
Trying to paint the vote (or lack thereof) that way is pure spin. They have nothing to do with one another.
Why was the ANWR amendment added to the Defense Spending Bill? Because they couldn’t get it through the normal channels all year. The Wall Street Journal (by subscription) said:
Senate filibusters have always been the biggest obstacle. Republicans thought they had circumvented that problem by attaching the provision to the deficit bill, which is considered under special time limits on debate. But House Republican moderates blocked this attempt, and Speaker Dennis Hastert of Illinois then asked Mr. Stevens to mount a last charge by attaching the drilling language to the Pentagon bill.
This was an opportunistic play, and the suffering people all along the Gulf Coast are human pawns in Stevens’ (and the White House’s) game.
The thought process seems to be, “If you let us move this legislation forward that has been stalled for 25 years, we’ll let you have some help down there.” According to Bayou Buzz (sourced above) the President's Press Secretary said,
It also, in addition to providing important resources for our troops, it provides funding for Gulf Coast recovery and funding for pandemic flu preparedness. And that´s why we urge the Senate to get it done and get it done now.
They tried for a mutual back-scratching deal, and instead of closing their eyes to the subterfuge, the Senate cried FOUL.
Senator Stevens needs to take his unpopular piece of legislation back to the smelly closet he pulled it from, because without that baggage, this legislation would have been a "no-brainer".
Update (and coda): The Senate, as expected, unanimously approved the bill sans ANWR amendment (which sends it back to the House since it is altered). I agree with Senators Landrieu and Vitter that it's a shame to have had to sacrifice the potential $ for levees that Sen. Stevens tacked on as sweetener - but it's an even bigger shame that this was seemingly the only source of more money.