The Senate has given President Bush a major victory, voting to open the Arctic National Wildlife refuge to drilling for oil.
The vote of 51-to-49 came as oil prices hit a record in trading in New York.
Drilling supporters say tapping the oil in the refuge will help reduce U.S. reliance on imports.
Opponents of drilling argued that exploration would not only hurt the fragile environment, it wouldn't do anything to bring down gas prices.
Washington Democrat Maria Cantwell said the exploration would have "minimal impact," because it won't produce any oil for at least 10 years.
The vote blocked an effort by Democrats and Republican moderates to remove a refuge drilling provision from next year's budget.
That prevented opponents from using a filibuster, a tactic that has been used in the past to block efforts to open the Alaska refuge to oil companies.