Energy Bill’s Chances Sink Ahead Of August Recess

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Wither the stripped-down energy bill?

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid had hoped to pass a scaled-back energy bill ahead of August recess. But with only a week left until break, a packed schedule and an expected Republican filibuster, that’s not looking very likely.

Democrats and Republicans remain most heavily divided over a provision in the Democrats’ legislation that would eliminate a cap on liability for oil companies in the event of an offshore spill — something Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) last week called “an affront to those who are serious about enacting good policy.”But even if a compromise can be reached on that portion of the bill, that’s no guarantee that it can pass the Senate by Friday. Reid also plans to bring a new jobs package to the floor this evening, and the Senate has yet to vote on the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan — both of which will eat up significant floor time.

Even if it can all be cleared in theory, other policy differences may stymie the energy package anyhow. Democrats have been extremely cautious with their language, noting that each of the bill’s four provisions has, on its own, bipartisan support. But that’s a far cry from saying the whole package has bipartisan support, and can overcome a filibuster with 60 votes.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brian Beutler is TPM’s senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he’s led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at brian@talkingpointsmemo.com

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