WASHINGTON – Two high-priority issues for Senate Republicans -- an energy bill and a temporary ban on human cloning -- will be voted on next week in the Senate.
The vote was scheduled for Monday afternoon on an amendment by Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss., combining a six-month ban on cloning and a version of a House-passed energy bill -- minus its $33 billion in tax breaks -- that also includes a controversial proposal opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling.
Although the amendment is unlikely to get the 60 Senate votes necessary, Lott said Thursday that Republicans believe the Senate should go on record on both issues before Congress recesses in December.
"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, arguing it is critical for the economy, would create jobs and would reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil.
Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., said earlier this week that the Senate will consider energy incentives early next year.
The Senate also plans 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 1 million people to be invested in the stock market.