The Alaska team in Washington delivered.
It was well into Saturday morning in Washington, D.C. when the Senate passed an historic tax cut for most individuals and American businesses. The bill contained a provision shepherded through by Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski and her Energy and Natural Resources Committee to open the 1002 area of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to energy exploration, with Sen. Dan Sullivan running interference down the field.
Opening ANWR has been sought after by Alaska for two generations, but has been blocked by the increasingly powerful environmental lobby.
The bill now will go to the conference committee with the House, and word is Rep. Don Young may be on the conference committee, where he will be in a position to protect the ANWR provision.
The bill passed 51-49, with Sen. Bob Corker bailing out of supporting it at the last minute. Earlier in the day, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had counted on 52 votes.
The Senate floor erupted into applause as soon as the voting was complete and the tally announced.
Of course, the Senate passed ANWR legislation in 2005, but it was killed by moderate Republicans when it went to conference committee. But this is a different House than in 2005.
“Republicans are beginning to get their mojo again,” said one source in the Senate. “The attempt to repeal Obamacare took a lot out of us, but with this bill and the repeal of the individual mandate … next will come stabilizing the [health care insurance] market, and addressing infrastructure and a rational solution to DACA [immigration].
Both Sens. Murkowski and Dan Sullivan were relentless in winning support for the ANWR provision, each working the relationships they have in the Senate.
During a press conference immediately after the vote, Sen. Murkowski said, “We have been trying to open the 1002 area for responsible oil and gas production for close to 40 years now. And we have come to a, a good place tonight. we recognize that we have a little bit of process yet to go to get it over the finish line. But this is good for alaska, and more importantly it is good for the country, and combined with what we have done in the tax reform, there is truly a win for America.