October 15, 2002
In the midst of difficulty lies opportunity. We'll see if that's true with energy bills. There were a couple staff-level meetings over the long holiday weekend, but progress was minimal. We're hung up on some pretty thorny issues. Whether we get unstuck, or stay stuck, remains to be seen. Most of the conversations this weekend were about the tax title (between Finance and Ways and Means staff), but there's still significant ground to cover. Electricity/RPS is unresolved and remains the paramount sticking point. There have been several discussions at the Member level on various ways to settle the issues in dispute, but those basic issues (merger authority, RPS, SMD, participant funding, etc.) remain in play. If resolution on those is reached, all the remaining pieces -- climate, ethanol, ANWR, taxes -- could be decided quickly. A variety of the Tier II issues also are still in play, and could be wrapped up quickly, if and when the big pieces come together. Later this week, probably on Thursday, Democratic conferees will meet to review any agreements or to decide where they want to go with the conference.