It’s become apparent that the 2018 budget reconciliation bill will include a provision opening the Arctic Oil Reserve (AOR), or Area 1002. of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Will there be 50 votes to pass it?
Senator McCain has opposed it in the past, but it doesn’t seem he’ll be around next year. The cancer that struck him, barring a medical miracle, will force him to retire. Gov. Ducey is certain to replace him with a reliable conservative, so AOR will have one more vote in favor.
Lindsey Graham is always a question mark, but since this oil is a strategic asset, and will cement our bonds with Japan, he’ll probably vote in favor. National defense and security are his top concerns, and the oil from Alaska is an asset that will be deployed in their support.
Collins of Maine will be the hardest Republican vote to get. She and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska are the two most liberal Republicans in the Senate. They are close friends, and support one another. Maybe her relationship with Alaska’s Murkowski will persuade her.
And then there’s Democrats Joe Manchin of West Virginia, and Joe Donnelly of Indiana. They’re persuadable, perhaps. Other D’s are possibilities as well. It looks as though the 50 votes needed will be there.
The problem, of course, is that in the next twelve months things may go to hell in a hand basket. Are the Republicans capable of passing anything? Too soon to tell, but things are sure ugly in D.C.
One obvious candidate to replace McCain is Arizona House Speaker J. D. Mesnard. This is a hard core conservative. Before he became Speaker he pushed through a bill to expand the Arizona Supreme Court from five members to seven. This gave Gov. Ducey two new seats to fill, and tilted the balance of the court in the conservative direction. I’m sure Gov. Ducey appreciated it.
As Speaker since January, Mesnard has worked hand in glove with the Governor. He carried his bills, and his water. He’s a very effective legislator.
He graduated from Arizona State and went to work as a staffer for the Arizona State Senate at the age of 21. He ran for the State House when he was 29, and is in his fourth and final term. Since he’s term limited, at the end of the 2018 session he’ll be out of a job. He’s a talented young man, and his talents should not go to waste.
I’m sure they won’t, one way or another. But that’s up to Gov. Ducey.