May 14, 2003
The Senate floor schedule is said to be notoriously unpredictable. Today we saw why. Here’s what happened: As forecast, the Senate yesterday set aside the energy bill (S. 14) to take up the tax reconciliation bill (S. 2). A technical problem forced the Senate to suspend activity on that legislation. Until that procedural glitch can be worked out, the Majority Leader opted to return to the energy bill. So, just like that, we’re doing energy again. The pending business was the Frist/Daschle ethanol amendment (SA 539). Sen. Feinstein offered a second degree amendment (SA 542), which would give States the ability to choose whether to participate in the renewable fuels program. That amendment was debated at some length. However, many Senators today were out-of-town attending Sen. Long’s funeral. Once it became clear that these Senators would not be returning to the Capitol until late, and likely would not have the benefit of being briefed on the Feinstein amendment before they were expected to vote (many may not even have known we were back on the energy bill), the Californian withdrew her amendment. Not surprisingly, no further amendments were offered, given the sudden switch in plans from what was expected this week. Today was all about the * appearance * of Senate action. Tomorrow, the Senate will be in at 9:15 a.m. to resume consideration of the tax reconciliation bill. We think.