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Durbin ‘Misspoke’ on Likelihood of Energy Bill Next Week

A spokesman for Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin said Wednesday that the Illinois Democrat “misspoke” when he said the Senate would not take up energy legislation next week because of schedule constraints.

“He was responding to questions about a bigger bill and said there wasn’t time to do such a bill,” Durbin spokesman Joe Shoemaker said, adding that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) “has said, and Sen. Durbin understands, that there will be some sort of energy bill next week.”

Asked earlier whether the Senate would be able to debate any energy bill next week, Durbin said, “We’re not doing it before we leave in August.” He added that the Senate schedule was packed until the chamber’s expected adjournment Aug. 6.

Durbin indicated that difficulties in getting the necessary votes to beat back expected GOP filibusters of a small-business lending bill and possibly a supplemental war spending bill made it tough to bring up energy.

He added that the Senate must hold a confirmation vote on Solicitor General Elena Kagan’s nomination to the Supreme Court before the recess, leaving the Senate little time to take up and debate an energy bill.

Senate Democrats have been divided over whether and how to bring up an energy or climate change bill this year, and they have had difficulty coalescing around a bill that could be brought up this month. Some Democrats have pushed to have the debate after the August recess, in order to give leaders time to build support for whatever version they want to bring to the floor.

Reid said Tuesday that he did not know what he might introduce but that he plans to have Democrats discuss the issue at their regular Thursday policy lunch.

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