November 8, 2001
12:00 AM
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Senator Frank H. Murkowski (R-AK), Ranking Member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, released the following statement after claims by Chairman Bingaman and Democrat staff that extensive negotiations on an energy bill have been held: “The notion that we are participating in these backroom, closed door efforts to hammer out an agreement is pure fiction. I don’t know where they got that impression and why they’re telling reporters this. These were staff briefings, not negotiations. My professional staff wasn’t even notified of one of the meetings until after it occurred. “We would certainly like the opportunity to discuss an energy bill. In fact, the Committee even has a big room just for that purpose – it’s got lights for TV cameras and seats for the public. Of course, that door has been barred and locked by the Majority Leader for quite some time. “From day one, Senator Breaux and I made sure our energy bill was bipartisan. We knew it was the only successful path toward passing a comprehensive energy bill. “Our Committee has not held a business meeting in over three months, in violation of both Senate and Committee rules. A majority of our Committee Members have been ready, willing and able to debate and report comprehensive, bipartisan energy legislation as part of an open process. We have been denied that right – occasional staff briefings behind closed doors is not a substitute. “I find it especially troubling that the press continues to swallow this nonsense and apparently has no qualms over being excluded from the process. This Committee is breaking the rules of the Senate. A major energy bill is being crafted behind closed doors by the Senate leadership and special interests...but no one seems to mind.” ###