Senate Stalled Over Approach to Energy Bill

Posted July 23, 2008 at 10:12am

Senate leaders rejected each other’s unanimous consent agreements early Wednesday, stalling the debate over energy policy.

Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) first objected to a consent request from Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) that would have permitted the chamber to proceed to the Democratic leadership’s market speculation bill. That bill probably will take up most of the Senate’s time until its recess next week. The bill aims to lessen the influence of the oil futures market on gas prices — the Democratic response to rising prices at the pump.

In his objection, McConnell said the speculation bill does not go far enough to combat rising prices. Republicans insist on provisions dealing with domestic drilling.

McConnell, in turn, requested that the Senate proceed to the speculation bill if both parties were allowed to offer numerous amendments. Reid would not agree to that motion.

Reid has said that he will allow one Republican amendment and one Democratic amendment. He argued that would give the GOP an opportunity to offer an alternative. Republicans said their one big amendment would fail but portions of it — if offered in separate amendments — would be adopted.