Monday, December 19, 2005

While You Were Sleeping

The House of Representatives decided to do a little caribou hunting last night.

Working through the night, the House early today voted to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling as part of a military measure and narrowly approved a $40 billion budget-cutting plan as bleary-eyed lawmakers concluded a marathon weekend session.

The Pentagon spending bill, adopted on a 308-106 vote shortly after 5 a.m., also included a $29 billion hurricane recovery package for the Gulf Coast, a $3.8 billion proposal to prepare for a potential flu pandemic and a 1 percent across-the-board cut that shaved a total of about $8 billion from current federal spending.

Democrats assailed majority Republicans for using the Pentagon bill to win approval of the drilling plan after objections by moderate Republicans led to it being eliminated from the budget measure.

“A can’t-pass measure has been added to a must-pass measure in order for the Republicans to give an early huge Christmas gift to the oil companies of the United States,” said Representative Edward J. Markey, Democrat of Massachusetts.

Well, look at it this way; Santa’s elves can work as oil-field roughnecks during the off-season.