A bipartisan group of lawmakers from the Senate attended a meeting at the White House June 29 to try to make some headway on the climate change logjam. The results? Inconclusive.
The White House issued a statement following the meeting that a “constructive exchange” took place at the 90-minute meeting. But no clear leader in the every-growing pack of energy-related bills appears to have emerged from the talks.
Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) said he left the meeting feeling “energized” and added that “this is the moment” to pass an energy bill. But he also signaled that he might be willing to “scale back” his cap-and-trade bill even further, according to Roll Call.
Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) said after the meeting that “most senators there were in favor of bringing forward the strongest bill that we could and could get the votes to pass.” But he said it was which bill that would be, adding that Majority Leader Harry Reid will ultimately make the decision about what sort of bill to bring up.
It could resemble a measure introduced recently by Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) or a bill that Bingaman crafted and that was co-sponsored by Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and approved last year by the energy committee. Or it might be a broader measure that includes a climate component.
Conventional wisdom around Capitol Hill seems to be that there is support for legislation to address the Gulf oil spill, and that what ultimately passes could be a package of oil-spill related bills with some other energy-related pieces attached.
Bingaman’s committee approved a bill on June 30 that would, among other things, mandate reforms at the Dept. of Interior’s former Minerals Management Service, increase safety requirements for offshore drilling operations and provide adequate funding for more comprehensive inspections of offshore oil rigs.
Several other bills —including legislation that would lift the cap on liability for corporations responsible for a spill—have been considered or cleared by committees in both chambers.
But Murkowski warned at the June 30 Senate committee markup: “This bill is just one piece of the oil spill puzzle.” She says she will “vehemently protest” efforts to push “legislative agendas that have proven to have some very bipartisan opposition.”
Finding the votes for any measure that puts a price on carbon will truly be a challenge for Reid.