Everybody leads with the House's passage early today of an energy bill modeled on President Bush's proposals. The legislation sent on to the Senate would open part of the Alaska wildlife refuge to oil drilling and does not significantly tighten fuel efficiency requirements for sport utility vehicles. The story also tops the Wall Street Journal's front-page worldwide news box. All the papers call the development a major victory for Bush. The New York Times calls the vote opening up the refuge "a crushing defeat for environmentalists."
The Washington Post emphasizes at the outset (higher than anybody else) that the House bill endorses "billons of dollars in tax breaks and incentives for energy producers." The coverage notes that White House-led lobbying was key to what USA Today calls a "remarkable reversal of fortune," especially on the drilling vote. The paper says that President Bush "framed the vote as a test of GOP loyalty." But the coverage also notes that unions also worked hard for the bill, arguing that drilling could create many jobs and significantly raising SUV fuel-efficiency levels could eliminate many. The NYT notes that Michigan Democrats, who include the House Democratic whip, voted against the tougher efficiency standards.
USAT and the Los Angeles Times observe that the energy bill's key provisions, particularly the drilling access, face an unclear future in the Senate. The NYT goes further, saying definitely that in the Senate the bill "is not expected to remain intact for long."
The LAT and WP front the Senate's vote yesterday requiring Mexican trucks to meet strict safety standards in order to gain total access to U.S. highways, a restriction that President Bush has threatened to veto on the grounds that it creates an obstacle to his goal of expanding U.S.-Mexico trade. An even stricter bill has already passed the House. The NYT front mentions the vote in a story suggesting that the statistics being bandied about to show that Mexican trucks are less safe than U.S. ones "are misleading or incomplete."
Everybody fronts the heatstroke death early yesterday of Minnesota Vikings tackle Korey Stringer, who first became ill during a training camp workout in high heat and humidity Monday morning. This is only the third on-field death in NFL history and the first from heatstroke. The coverage suggests that Stringer's 330-lb bulk made him particularly susceptible.
The WP reports inside that the Air Force's top general yesterday endorsed the United States' eventual deployment of weapons in space--something no country has done yet--mainly to have the capacity to shoot down other countries' satellites.
There's a particularly incredible picture on the USAT front, showing 100,000 Palestinians mourning the deaths of six Palestinian activists and two children killed Tuesday by an Israeli missile attack. In the foreground above this crowd, a mourner is squeezing off some rounds from his banana-clipped assault rifle. Don't these folks know that those bullets have to come down somewhere, and with a gathering that large and dense, probably on Palestinians or their houses or cars? Don't they care?
Back to the House energy vote for a beat. Many of the papers include as an indicator of the pre-vote debate's intensity this exchange between Rep. Nancy Johnson, a Republican from Connecticut, and Rep. Don Young, a Republican from Alaska, in which Johnson says, "Mark my word. ... You can't explore for oil in this area without doing permanent and severe damage to the environment," and Young replies, "How dare you stand up and talk about something when you've never been there. ... Shame on you." But none of the sheets answer a natural question: During his congressional career, has Young abstained from all votes pertaining to space exploration?