Democratic News

Seems like a fine afternoon for an early progress report on the Senate's energy bill. One week ago, the Majority staff draft of this legislation (see energy.senate.gov) was circulated. A mark-up schedule was announced the next day. The first three sessions were planned for this week. To allow for a schedule that would result in a better mark-up and a more meaningful process, Sen. Bingaman asked Chairman Domenici to delay the beginning of mark-up. The Chairman graciously agreed. The new mark-up schedule is April 8, 9,10 (one week before the April 14-28 recess) and April 29, 30 and May 1 (one week after recess). These all-day meeting will be held in Dirksen 366. The committee's Majority will announce which subjects will be considered on what day. The goal is to report a bill on May 1, with the legislation ready for the Senate floor before the Memorial Day recess. Republican and Democratic staffs are now discussing how close we may be on certain topics, working in good faith to resolve differences and see how many of the topics can be put in consensual form. The objective of this bipartisan approach is to try and develop joint staff recommendations before everyone gets into a room and starts pitching amendments. Meanwhile, Finance Committee today marked up the energy tax package. This Grassley-Baucus bill (S. 597, the Energy Tax Incentives Act of 2003), co-sponsored by Sens. Domenici and Bingaman, includes sections dealing with wind energy, biomass, biodiesel, ethanol, fuel taxes, energy efficient appliances, animal waste and oil and gas production.