How Reid Pulled the Plug on Energy Reform

August 6th, 2010 at 4:55 pm | 11 Comments |

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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.

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11 Comments so far ↓

  • ChacoKevy

    “Reid sandbagged the trio, Graham especially, with ill-timed talk of shoving immigration ahead of climate in line ”
    A tinge unfair. I agree that moving immigration to the front of the line ahead of energy was not a good thing, but I don’t agree that Reid did it: Arizona state legislature, and the ensuing hullabaloo, did.

  • Rabiner

    “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.”

    What’s the point of committing to legislation if you know it will never come to a vote since the other side with simply filibuster it? Seems like you’re better off going on to the next subject that can muster the necessary votes than bang your head against the wall over and over.

  • sinz54

    Harry Reid is hinting that he will bring up a broader energy bill when Congress returns in September.

    It won’t have cap-and-trade or a carbon tax in it.
    You can bet on that.

    All the Dem senators running for re-election in Red States–Reid included–don’t want to spring that on the voters just before the election.

    And after the election?
    The message from the election looks to be: Take a breather from the Obama-Pelosi agenda.
    Not only won’t cap-and-trade be brought up then,
    but it wouldn’t surprise me to see at least a few Dems from conservative districts (those that survived the election) switch parties to the GOP.

  • balconesfault

    but it wouldn’t surprise me to see at least a few Dems from conservative districts (those that survived the election) switch parties to the GOP.

    Because there’s nothing a conservative Dem wants more than to run in a primary in a couple years where the majority of voters will be Palin-loving Tea Partiers.

    It will be interesting to see, no matter what the outcome of the election, if Harry Reid is still Majority Leader in January. The man has not exactly been a legislative hammer. Repubs should be pulling for Angle to go down in flames, (a) because of the 6 years of impending embarrassment should she win, and (b) because another Dem majority leader might just decide to make people … well … filibuster when they want to filibuster.

  • Even facing an emergency, the GOP fizzles on energy – Boston Globe

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  • ktward

    That Reid’s tenure as Senate Majority Leader has been, er, controversial–notably among Dems–is hardly news.

    But as other commenters have already legitimately pointed out, the surprise of AZ 1070′s uber-drama effectively put the kibash on the bi-partisan Energy Bill already in the works. Not Reid.

    Nevertheless, I wouldn’t be opposed to a [ahem] ‘more effective’ Senate Majority Leader. However, first on the To-Do list is seeing to it that Dems remain the majority, and Dipeso does a decent job of illustrating why: “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.”

    Seriously. Is there anyone (!) outside Levin’s Choir who believes a 112 GOP Senate Majority would actively work to advance *any* comprehensive Energy Bill? Legislation that actually addresses our very real climate/energy challenges?

    I realize that Hill Dems are, by various accounts, tackling this issue altogether imperfectly. But it could be much, much worse. It could be in the hands of today’s GOP.

  • sinz54

    balconesfault: Repubs should be pulling for Angle to go down in flames,
    Absolutely.

    Because any new Majority Leader could be much worse for the GOP. Would Senate Republicans like to deal with Majority Leader Schumer?

    A weakened Reid, weakened by being barely able to keep his seat from an extremist like Angle, forced to compromise with an enlarged contingent of Republican senators, will be terrific for the GOP.

  • jimmypader

    too bad that there was no meaningful legislation on home efficiency improvements. cash for caulkers seems to have lost momentum. green remodels will improve the nation’s energy efficiency faster than the molasses we call congress! for more info, visit http://www.wintersunllc.com

  • abj

    balconesfault –

    Repubs should be pulling for Angle to go down in flames, (a) because of the 6 years of impending embarrassment should she win, and (b) because another Dem majority leader might just decide to make people … well … filibuster when they want to filibuster

    You make a good point. I suspect that as a U.S. Senator, Angle would adopt the same “one woman filibuster” strategy that made her infamous in the Nevada General Assembly. Not to mention that if she loses, it’ll help put the brakes on the Tea Party madness.

    And yes, I agree that either Durbin or Schumer would be a formidable majority leader.

  • ktward

    abj.

    Durbin, all the way.
    Then again, I’m in IL. I might be biased.

  • Cyber Cauldron

    Transmogrification…

    I found your entry interesting thus I’ve added a Trackback to it on my weblog :)