'Gang of 20' won't offer energy bill:D
A bipartisan group of senators who sought a compromise in the rancorous energy debate won't introduce their bill before lawmakers adjourn for the elections, several Senate aides said Thursday.Instead, the so-called Gang of 20 will offer a statement of principals outlining their agreement on a host of divisive issues, including expanded offshore drilling. They plan to offer legislation once the political season has ended, according to an aide to a Democrat involved in the discussions. The aide said that the election-year environment has poisoned the atmosphere and hampered the chances of passing a bill on such a controversial campaign topic....snip
No legislative language was drafted in early August. But the group agreed to a broad set of goals, including transitioning 85 percent of the country's automobiles to non-petroleum-based fuels within 20 years, providing incentives to boost nuclear energy, repealing billions in subsidies for oil companies, opening the Eastern Gulf of Mexico off of Florida for oil exploration, and allowing Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia to decide whether to allow drilling off their shores.
Since the group won't offer a bill, it's unclear how the energy debate will unfold days before the scheduled Sept. 26 adjournment. Since consideration of the bill was expected to play a significant role in the debate, some senior aides expected Democrats would scrap next week's energy debate, in light of the packed scheduled before the recess and the heightened focus on the economic downturn. But no decisions have been announced, according to a Democratic leadership aide.
Democrats, under pressure to lift a nearly three-decade-old ban on drilling, seemed open to the plan to deflect criticism that they were standing in the way of finding more domestic supplies.
But many Republicans criticized the plan, raising concerns that by offering a compromise to Democrats and their presidential candidate Barack Obama, it would blunt a potent election-year attack that has gained traction at the polls. GOP presidential candidate John McCain opposed the plan, and Democrats were preparing to attack the Arizona senator for standing in the way of a bipartisan compromise. And many Republicans, like Sen. McCain, said repealing subsidies from oil companies would amount to a tax hike.