Nov 13 2002
Senate Democratic and Republican conferees, after a joint meeting today, declared that efforts to pass an energy bill this year are ended. With the House expected to adjourn tomorrow, the odds were long, the time was short. Too short. Today's bipartisan meeting brought together Dem and GOP conferees to talk through how the Senate might respond to a proposal the House sent over yesterday -- maybe with a counteroffer that was broader in scope and more substantive than the two-topic House offer. The idea was to let Senators talk this through and find their way to a consensus. In that sense, today's meeting was successful: Senators quickly reached agreement that there is not enough time left to complete, and pass, an energy conference report. "We missed an opportunity to do something good for the country," said Energy Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman. "The political will to act did not match the rhetoric of the past two years on the need to address looming problems such as electricity reform, natural gas supply and our increasing thirst for foreign oil for transportation. I think the task of coming up with a comprehensive approach to energy policy, absent a major crisis, will only grow more difficult in the next Congress."