WASHINGTON (AP) -- Alaska Sen. Frank Murkowski and other Senate Republicans won the right Thursday for a vote on an energy bill that includes drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The energy measure, and a six-month ban on cloning, are being packaged as an amendment to a totally unrelated bill.
A vote was scheduled for Monday afternoon on an amendment proposed by Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss., that combines a six-month ban on cloning and a House-passed package of $33 billion in energy tax breaks that also includes the controversial ANWR drilling.
The amendment is unlikely to get the 60 Senate votes necessary. But Murkowski and Lott said Republicans believe the issues need to be addressed before Congress recesses in December.
Murkowski protested loudly when Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., said earlier this week that the Senate would consider the energy issue early next year.
''In the case of energy, and in the case of cloning, if we don't do it now, we won't be able to do anything until February or March,'' Lott added.
President Bush and congressional Republicans have sought a vote on the energy legislation since it passed the House in July. They argue it is critical for the economy, would create jobs and would reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil.
Murkowski lectured the Senate on the foreign oil issue with a pie chart showing the slice of American oil consumption provided by Iraq and other Mideast countries, from a region he characterized as unstable.
Murkowski also computed the number of years that the suspected reserves in ANWR would provide the entire consumption of oil for states such as Massachusetts and Connecticut, whose senators have been among the most vocal opponents of ANWR drilling. Oil under the reserve would fuel those states for decades, Murkowski said.
The Senate had also planned to consider human cloning issues next year, but news this week that a Massachusetts company had succeeded in cloning a human embryo led Republican conservatives to demand a temporary ban right away.
Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., said his proposal would ban all human cloning for six months, to give Congress time to examine the issue.
''Time out -- let's hold up a little bit,'' Brownback said. ''We need to debate all of these issues.''
The amendment combining the two high-profile issues was proposed as part of yet another unrelated measure: a bill overhauling the railroad retirement system that would allow pension funds for about a million people to be invested in the stock market.
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