Energy Conference Update #15 (Heads Up)

October 17, 2003
12:00 AM
1) You probably have read the reports that ANWR and the OCS inventory are going to be dropped from the final energy conference report. That is what we’ve been hearing … and it is what we’ve expected all along. We look for this to be presented to reporters as two enormous “gives” to the Democrats. Phooey. The removal of these controversial measures is a bow to the electoral reality in both bodies: ANWR is poison in the Senate, the OCS inventory is poison in the House. Don’t be taken in by any PR that these are grand concessions; they are just vote-counters acknowledging reality. (In our view, the GOP doesn’t deserve credit for leaving out of a conference report two issues that were not demonstrably supported to begin with.) 2) Today, rumors about new stuff appearing in the energy conference report are swirling around town like leaves in Rock Creek Park. We’ve heard different reports, from different sources, about staff-level agreements among the Republicans on a final conference report. If true, the final conference report will include new policies on major issues -- policies that Democratic conferees will be seeing for the first time. Additionally, we expect that the text will include new provisions that were not in earlier drafts. That, obviously, is of concern – particularly because we have had no meaningful role in helping shape this legislation. So Senate Democratic conferees wrote this letter to Chairman Domenici: October 16, 2003 Dear Mr. Chairman: We understand that you are attempting to schedule a final conference meeting for next Monday, October 20, 2004. To that end, we understand that you, Chairman Tauzin, and other Members of the Congressional Republican Leadership will be meeting today to resolve numerous complex issues in the conference, with respect to which we have not seen any draft language as yet. Because of the importance of these issues and the lack of any meeting at which we, as conferees, have been able to comment on or amend text agreed to by yourself and Chairman Tauzin thus far, we would request that we be given a sufficient amount of time (and at least one full business day) to examine (1) the final text of any proposed conference agreement, and (2) an explanation of, and score by the Joint Committee on Taxation for, any tax provisions in the conference report. This would allow us to make an informed decision on, and formulate, any amendments that we might offer in such a conference meeting. Thank you for your attention to this request. We look forward to a favorable reply. Sincerely, Jeff Bingaman Byron Dorgan Max Baucus Bob Graham Ron Wyden Tim Johnson