Dems try to advance climate and energy bills; Repubs work to block them
As usual, Darren Samuelsohn is the best source on the maneuvering inside Congress on climate and energy, and as usual, he’s trapped behind a pay wall, so as usual, I do my humble best to drag his reporting out into the light.
Here he is on the latest with Lieberman-Warner. In short, conservative Republicans, led by Inhofe, are complaining that there hasn’t been enough time for them to
lie and demagogue study the bill. They want to hear from some right-wing think tankers hard-working businessmen about the economic apocalypse that awaits us if we so much as think about reducing carbon emissions. Says Boxer:
"Were they asleep when we’ve done this all year?" Boxer said. "This is our 20th hearing. I urge them to go back and read the record."
There’s a subcommittee markup of the bill on Nov. 1; Boxer won’t say when there will be a full committee markup. She says that the bill could change in subcommittee, and she’ll be pushing to strengthen it:
Boxer also predicted a long legislative battle ahead that would include her own push for stronger emission limits for power plants, cars and other industries along the lines of a bill she cosponsored with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).
"That’s my goal," she said. "I’d like to move it in that direction, and I hope to be able to do that when we get it to the floor."
Meanwhile, the United Mineworkers of America came out in opposition to the bill, which they said might harm coal mining and — who saw this coming — raise energy prices for average Americans. They want a "safety valve" that would
neuter the bill prevent energy costs from going up and a specific provision to prevent states from taking action in excess of the federal standard. Here’s the letter (PDF) they sent.
Elsewhere on E&E, Ben Geman gives an update on the Republican strategy to
block an energy bill at all costs work with Democrats to get the "best energy bill possible."
Senate Republicans are split on how to approach negotiations with Democrats on reconciling House and Senate energy bills, top GOP lawmakers said today.
House and Senate Democratic leaders say they want a conference, but they have already launched informal talks and say they intend to produce a final bill one way or another.
Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.), the minority whip, told reporters that he would prefer a formal conference but acknowledged that there other views within the GOP caucus. “Some people think we should not even try and go to conference, let them [Democrats] mess it up on their own, and we can probably defeat cloture or sustain a veto,” he said.
“There is not a single position,” said Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona, who chairs the Republican Conference. “It is not like there are a whole lot of hardened positions either. We are trying to figure out what is the best way to proceed and get the best bill we can.”
Some key Republicans, including Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee ranking member Pete Domenici (N.M.), favor formal talks.
But least one Republican, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (Texas) has a procedural hold on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-Nev.) effort to launch formal House-Senate talks. She opposes provisions in the House bill that would repeal billions of dollars in oil industry tax breaks.
There might be a pattern in these stories, if you look closely — Dems trying to get something done and Republicans working furiously to block it.
But if you let your eyes just blur a little, turn your critical thinking down a notch, you see the more comfortable mainstream media picture: “gridlock in Congress.” Nobody to blame, nosir!