Harry Reid is hinting that he will bring up a broader energy bill when Congress returns in September.
Yes, of course. Right about the time that my Seattle Mariners (Win – Loss record of 40-68, worst team batting average in the majors) will be making their stretch run for the playoffs.
Who in a rational frame of mind would give any credence to anything that Harry Reid says about energy or its sibling issue climate?
As Al Smith used to say, let’s look at the record.
Just as the tripartisan Kerry-Graham-Lieberman climate and energy bill was ready for prime time, Reid sandbagged the trio, Graham especially, with ill-timed talk of shoving immigration ahead of climate in line – long before Graham and Chuck Schumer were ready to unveil their own bipartisan immigration reform bill.
That nakedly political play for re-election votes by Reid was followed by weeks of shilly-shallying on whether a broad energy/climate bill would be advanced, what it might look like, and whether it would get the attention necessary to thread a big, complicated bill through the 60-vote needle.
Like the whipsawing Sneetches from the Dr. Seuss storybook, Reid never got clear on what his priorities were. “Off again! On again! In again! Out again! Through the Senate machine, Reid raced climate legislation round and about again, changing its position every minute or two.”
Nor did Reid spell out unambiguously what direction the legislation should take.
Did he give a clear push to Kerry and Lieberman’s American Power Act? No.
Did he put his weight fully behind a utilities-only cap? No.
Did he signal that the bipartisan Collins-Cantwell cap-and-dividend approach was the way to go? No.
Did he say anything about a carbon tax as an alternative to cap-and-trade? No.
Should we be surprised, then, that nothing was accomplished? No.
The problem was that Reid was not willing to commit to any proposal that did not come with 60 votes gift-wrapped. Apparently, securing votes is no longer part of the Majority Leader’s job description.
It was a special treat to watch Reid’s fickle behavior regarding the floor time a bill would have as the shadows started to lengthen over the 111th Congress. First it would get weeks. Then days. Then hours. Then, inevitably, nothing at all.
Reid slapped together a last-minute bill mostly limited to oil spill response, but he canned even that when 60 votes didn’t magically materialize out of the ether.
So, with Reid fecklessly leading the Senate and most environmental groups unwilling to call him out for his ineffective leadership, should we expect a different outcome in September? No.
Making matters worse is the GOP leadership, which has been hell-bent on gumming up the Senate and running out the clock in anticipation of likely gains in November. Your taxpayer dollars at work.
For all intents and purposes, it appears that broad energy legislation will have to wait until the 112th Congress, when, we can only hope, there will be better leadership from both sides of the aisle.