Thursday, July 12, 2007

Don't Wait Up for that Energy Bill

Looks like even though they're giving up on any attempt to generate new energy through their energy bill, Congressional Democrats are still having problems making progress:

While Democrats in both chambers have repeatedly blamed Republicans for obstructing their agenda in the 110th Congress, congressional sources say there is escalating tension between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on energy legislation.

Reid told senior lawmakers on a conference call late last month that Pelosi could be making a mistake by not passing the energy bill that recently passed the Senate and instead moving ahead with a House plan that will open up an intra-party battle, according to one person on the call.

A spokesman for Reid declined to comment...

One of the key aspects to the Democrats’ energy bill is a ramp-up in fuel economy standards for cars and light trucks to 35 miles per gallon by model year 2020.

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman John Dingell, a Michigan Democrat and an ally of the auto industry, has been vehemently opposed to an increase in automotive efficiency standards, and has sparred openly with Pelosi over the future of the nation’s energy policy.

Hoyer said yesterday the House may punt the issue until bicameral discussions, but predicted that a final conference report would include language on auto efficiency standards similar to what passed the Senate.

But Dingell could be the lead House negotiator in a conference committee. And Reid on the conference call suggested that House leaders could be erring by negotiating with Dingell, the source said.

When Republicans held the majority, it was difficult to pass major legislation over the opposition of Dingell due to his tenacity and his skill in building coalitions on his priorities. It will be doubly difficult now that he is Chairman.

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