“Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) had a terrible relationship with Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and greatly resented the “anti-torture” amendment that McCain added to Stevens’s defense appropriations bill in 2005. But Stevens ultimately decided that he couldn’t rightly use his backroom power to strip the language out in the House-Senate conference. If it were put to a vote, Stevens knew he would lose, and so he allowed McCain’s legislation to become law.
Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.) — who was part of those defense talks — respected Stevens’s handling of the situation so much that he helped the Alaskan use the same bill to get a vote Stevens wanted: opening up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge more to oil and gas exploration.
Stevens lost ultimately on the Senate floor. But the whole transaction — between two veteran vote-counters who are now both deceased — illustrates something missing in Congress.”