Centrist House Republicans are seeking to reprise their successful strategy from last year to keep drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) out of the fiscal year 2007 budget resolution.

The group of moderates plan to send a letter to House Budget Committee Chairman Jim Nussle (R-IA), warning him that inclusion of a provision to open the coastal plain of ANWR to energy exploration and production would lead to divisiveness within the party over the budget.

Moderate Republicans, led by Rep. Charles Bass (R-NH), were successful late last year in getting ANWR stripped from the budget package for fiscal year 2006. They had threatened to vote against the entire budget if ANWR remained (see Daily GPI, Nov. 11, 2005). The move by moderate GOP and some Democratic lawmakers drew sharp opposition from the energy industry.

House Resources Committee Chairman Richard Pombo (R-CA) said in a published report this week that passing ANWR in Congress this election year would not be easy, but he in “no way ruled it out,” his spokeswoman said.

“I think our best shot at getting it [ANWR] done was last year,” Pombo told Congressional Quarterly Today. “I think if it does move, it’s probably going to have to start on the Senate side.”

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