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Reid Calls for Energy Tax Extenders Package

Before his energy summit takes place next week in Las Vegas, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Friday emphasized the need for renewable-energy tax cuts that are being blocked by Republicans.

“We cannot drill our way out” of high gasoline prices, he said on a conference call. While prices have dropped in recent days, Reid stressed the need to wean the country from foreign oil and invest in cleaner sources of energy.

Before the August recess, Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) were in a standoff over the type and number of amendments Republicans could offer on the Democratic leadership’s oil market-speculation bill. Reid tried to get his GOP colleagues to allow passage of a bill to reauthorize renewable-energy tax credits before he accepted any deal on amendments. Republicans refused.

Asked what it would take for him to join Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who recently said she could be open to having a vote on offshore drilling, in bringing to the floor a bill on domestic production when Congress returns in September, Reid skirted the question, saying that everything must be on the table but that the extenders bill should be passed.

“It’s not a black-and-white issue,” Reid said, adding that the energy debate should not be simplified by focusing solely on domestic production.

T. Boone Pickens, the Texas oil tycoon who has been pushing for a more comprehensive approach, jumped in and said Reid was not “as firm as I am on drilling.”

Reid, however, said the mix of ideas that the Senate’s bipartisan “Gang of 10” came up with is a good starting point for an energy package.

“I feel good that we can move forward to do something on energy. These 10 folks worked very hard,” Reid said.

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