Impasse on Energy Continues

Posted July 31, 2008 at 2:36pm

In what may be a last-ditch attempt to force their colleagues to do something on energy prices before feeling the heat at home, Senate leaders took to the floor Thursday in an attempt to break the two-week impasse on energy.

On Thursday afternoon, several members of the Democratic leadership requested that the Senate move to consider their party’s bills aiming to lower gasoline prices.

For more than 30 minutes, starting with Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Democrats asked that lawmakers consider legislation dealing with renewable energy, oil speculation and subjecting oil companies to antitrust laws, among other proposals.

On every unanimous consent request, Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) rejected the offer for Republicans, saying that most of the proposals did not offer “new energy” sources. Kyl said Republicans seek domestic production as a solution to the high gas prices, meaning they want to open more territory to drilling.

In turn, Republicans made their own offer that would open areas for deep-sea exploration. But Democrats objected.

However, the clock is ticking as lawmakers have only one full day left before recessing for the month of August.

In a meeting with reporters Thursday afternoon, Reid said it was unlikely that Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) would permit Republicans to break the Senate logjam.

The two leaders had been trying to negotiate the terms of a deal that would allow Republicans to offer amendments on Reid’s oil speculation bill, but that all came to an end when not enough GOP lawmakers voted for a Democratic-led tax-extenders bill Wednesday.

“I’m concerned. I have been concerned for more than a year. Republicans have made a decision to maintain the status quo,” Reid said.