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Energy Legislation Stuck on Amendments

With the hope that the Senate could recess having done something about gasoline prices, Majority Leader Harry (D-Nev.) is pressuring Republicans to offer their own drilling amendment to the market speculation bill.

Reid said Tuesday morning that he would allow a vote on domestic oil drilling, but the GOP leadership has signaled that they are unwilling to offer one on the majority’s terms.

Republicans “have been saying and following the lead of oil companies saying, we want to use less, drill more. And we’re saying let’s vote on your proposal. They are saying ‘no way,’ because [the GOP is] filibustering another piece of legislation,” Reid said.

Democratic leaders would like Republicans to offer a domestic drilling amendment at the same time as a similar one presented by the Democrats. Both amendments would need 60 votes in order to pass.

Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.), chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, has been drafting language for the Democrats that would allow domestic oil exploration, but he is waiting to get the green light from Reid to offer the amendment.

Senate leaders have been engrossed in negotiations on the way forward on the market speculation bill. However, Republicans counter that curbing speculation will do very little, if anything, and are pressing hard for a drilling component. But they don’t want to be limited to just one amendment.

Reid said Tuesday morning that Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) told Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) that Republicans would like to offer 28 amendments on the market speculation bill. Democratic leaders seem to have rejected that offer.

A senior GOP staffer disputed the number of amendments that Reid said Republicans would like to offer and questioned why the Majority Leader was trying to limit amendments.

“On the biggest domestic issue facing our nation? One amendment a side?” the staffer asked.

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