In August 2001, the House of Representatives approved oil recovery in a small portion of ANWR. On October 10, Daschle took the unusual step of canceling deliberations in the Democrat-controlled Senate Energy Committee and seizing control of the Senate version of the bill. Faced with likely passage in both the Energy Committee and the full Senate, Daschle chose instead to keep the bill from reaching a Committee or full floor vote.
In the Senate Energy Committee, Democrats Daniel Akaka of Hawaii and Mary Landrieu of Louisiana were poised to vote for ANWR drilling. Other Democratic senators who are not members of the Committee were considering joining Akaka and Landrieu if the bill reached the full Senate.
"Several members of the other side don't want a vote on ANWR because they know they would lose," said Senator Frank Murkowski (R-Alaska). "They didn't have the votes in committee and we did."
Now, pressure has mounted from a bipartisan group of Teamsters, Republican congressmen, and moderate Democrats for Daschle to allow a vote on ANWR, a key element in President George W. Bush's energy plan. Moderate Democrats, in particular, feel they are losing political capital being associated with Daschle's unusual tactics.
"Senator Daschle has subverted the will of the Energy Committee, the will of the Senate, and the will of the American people--all in order to deny the President a political win," said Murkowski.
"At this point, they have decided to put this process behind closed doors and pull the plug on an issue that the President has said is important to our energy security in a time of war," added a top Republican official at the Energy Committee.