The Senate on Thursday approved a $2.8 trillion budget resolution that sets the stage for legislation authorizing drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), but the prospects for the inclusion of ANWR in the House budget appear bleak.

House Budget Committee Chairman Jim Nussle (R-IA) signaled that ANWR will not be part of the budget resolution when his committee marks up its version later this month, according to a report in Congressional Quarterly’s Green Sheets.

By a narrow vote of 51 to 49, the Senate on Thursday approved the budget resolution instructing the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee to write reconciliation language to reduce federal budget authority and outlays by $3 billion between fiscal years 2007 and 2011, a move that paves the way for a bill opening the coastal plain of ANWR to exploration and production.

All of the Democrats voted against the budget resolution. They were joined by only four Republicans — Sens. Mike DeWine of Ohio, Norm Coleman of Minnesota, John Chafee of Rhode Island and John Ensign of Nevada.

A House vote to keep ANWR out of its budget resolution would not completely kill the issue this year. ANWR still could be raised during the House-Senate conference negotiations on the budget package later this year, given that the Senate approved arctic refuge drilling in its budget resolution.

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