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Reid Makes Economic Case for Energy Bill

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who is trying to rally his deflated caucus behind a scaled-back energy proposal, said the measure would spur economic growth and pave the way for a more comprehensive approach.

Flanked by Democratic Sens. Debbie Stabenow (Mich.) and Bob Menendez (N.J.) and a gaggle of energy reform advocates at a press conference Wednesday, the Nevada Democrat invited Republicans to support the measure he hopes to bring up by next week.

“To have a broader bill, we need Republican support. We hope we get it with this bill,” Reid said. “Is this bill perfect? No. But it’s a good bill.”

Reid, whose state has a 14-percent unemployment rate, cited one estimate that the measure would create 200,000 new jobs. Likewise Stabenow, who also hails from an economically depressed state with double-digit unemployment, announced, “I see this very much as a jobs issue.”

“If we have to do it step by step, I guess we will, but we’re absolutely committed to a comprehensive energy policy in this country,” she said.

Reid is expected to bring up the scaled-back measure, which focuses on the Gulf of Mexico oil spill and offers federal subsidies for natural gas and electric vehicles, after the chamber wraps up consideration of the small-business measure currently on the floor. By framing it as an economic booster, Reid hopes to build support for the measure. But some Democrats are lukewarm about the bill, while Republicans have largely assailed it.

In an earlier press conference Wednesday, Senate Republicans criticized Reid for releasing the measure late Tuesday night. They said the bill would crush energy development and gave no indication it would receive any GOP support.

“Democrats are treating the serious subject of clean energy like an unwanted relative. The Majority Leader released a bill at 10 p.m. last night, it has 400 pages, it was written in secret, he’s going to allow no amendments, he will have time for very little debate,” Republican Conference Chairman Lamar Alexander (Tenn.) said.

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