Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Energy Debate Continues

Since I last updated on the Senate's debate over the energy bill, they've moved through a couple more amendments and continue to debate others, including McCain-Lieberman. There will be a vote on that sometime this afternoon, which I'll be following but which you can also watch here.

Last night, the Senate agreed to an amendment offered by Senator George Voinovich, which would provide $1 billion in grants and loans to state governments and other organizations to retrofit diesel engines to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. That passed 92-1, with only Wyoming's Mike "Who Needs Clean Air?" Enzi voting no. Also last night, the Senate approved by voice vote an amendment put forward by Ohio's Mike DeWine and Wisconsin's Herb Kohl, which would "allow the Justice Department or the Federal Trade Commission to sue the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries on antitrust grounds." That would be a much more noteworthy action were it not for the statement of Senator Domenici after the passage of the amendment:

"I want everybody to know because we had a voice vote and accepted this amendment, we will go to conference with the House. It should be clearly understood that the House does not have anything like this. I want everybody to know that this amendment is going to have to be bundled up with this bill. Those are the rules. But it might get lost between the floor and the time we get over to the Senate, and we may not be able to find it when we get over there, just so everybody understands what the fate of this amendment is."

In other words, it's never going to be heard from again.

On Wednesday, the Senate voted to table an amendment offered by California's Dianne Feinstein, which would have given state governors the ability to block construction of liquefied natural gas import facilities based on environmental or health grounds. The roll call on that was 52-45 in favor of tabling the motion: eight Democrats joined 44 Republicans in killing the motion, while ten Republicans voted with the minority.

Also tabled Wednesday was a measure pushed by New York senator Chuck Schumer, "To express the sense of the Senate regarding management of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to lower the burden of gasoline prices on the economy of the United States and circumvent the efforts of OPEC to reap windfall profits." The vote on that was 57-39: six Democrats joined 51 Republicans in voting to table, while Republicans Collins, Snowe and Specter voted to keep the amendment alive.

They're still talking about McCain-Lieberman now - a vote on that is coming up within a couple of hours. The debate has actually been fairly interesting, with some excellent statements (excerpts as soon as I can).


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