021318_perdue 1

U.S. Sen. David Perdue, right, approaches the podium Monday at Bonefish Grill on St. Simons Island to talk to the Golden Isles Republican Women.

Wes Wolfe/The Brunswick News

U.S. Sen. David Perdue said Monday that with the opening up of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to fossil fuel exploration, there is not much need to do the same along the Georgia coast.

“Here, it’s a different thing — we’ve got the gulf stream, we’ve got tidal dimensions, all those variables that make it different than the Gulf, even,” Perdue, R-Ga., said to a meeting of the Golden Isles Republican Women on St. Simons Island. “The Gulf doesn’t have those variables. So, the 50-mile limit they’ve been talking about doesn’t give me a lot of comfort. I don’t believe that’s their top priority up there right now.”

The 50-mile limit was a restriction imposed during the Obama administration that would have banned all drilling within 50 miles of the coast. The plan under consideration by the Trump administration would scrap the ban. Perdue’s backing away from full-throated support of offshore drilling in the Atlantic Ocean mirrors moves by fellow Republicans in the Southeast during the past year.

He added that any drilling off the Georgia coast “is on the back burner right now.”

The Sea Island resident is one of President Donald Trump’s top allies in the Senate, however, and said that as it comes to passing policy priorities, it is time to get rid of the 60-vote cloture threshold in the chamber needed to force a vote on a number of bills.

While Perdue acknowledged the founders’ intentions for the Senate to be the more-deliberative body of Congress, he said filibustering was used sparingly until the second half of the 20th century, and the 60-vote cloture threshold has only been a part of procedure during the last 40 years. He also noted Trump’s statements regarding how the GOP majority should not have to win over a dozen Democrats — more or less — to hold votes on legislative packages on things like infrastructure and immigration reform, which Perdue said would have already passed if not for the cloture rule.

House Republicans called for action on the rule during the GOP retreat in West Virginia last week. Perdue said, however, that Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and former Senate Republican Conference Chairman Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., are more wedded to the traditions of the Senate and do not favor throwing out the rule.

Perdue’s visit comes on the heels of an agreement between the House and Senate leadership to establish a joint select committee to address the congressional budget process.

“Since the budget process was established in 1974, Congress has only funded the government on time four times in the past 44 years,” Perdue said in a statement Friday. “As a result, our national debt is $20 trillion. Changing the budget process will not solve the debt crisis, but we will not solve the debt crisis until we change Congress’ broken budget process.”

McConnell and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-Wis., are tasked with the responsibility of appointing members to the committee by Feb. 23. The committee is to include eight senators and eight representatives, with four Republicans and four Democrats from each.

More from this section

With only a few weeks left in right whale calving season, Clay George of the state Department of Natural Resources spoke the continuing refrain.