Energy Conference Update #3 (Conference Charade)

September 15, 2003
12:00 AM
Late today, staffs for Chairman Domenici and Chairman Tauzin released draft language on a variety of second-tier sections in the energy bill -- language that GOP drafted secretly over the past 10 days. Now, after Republicans banned Democrats from meaningful conference negotiations, Chairmen Domenici and Tauzin are said to “look forward to an open and bipartisan process.” (Huh?) We are studying today’s released language to see how it differs from last year’s conference agreements that really, truly were the result of an open, authentic, bipartisan process. That process let all conferees participate in discussions where compromises were reached on the topics covered in today’s release. We don’t know how meaningful any staff meetings this week will be. Chairman Domenici and Chairman Tauzin are perfectly capable of writing an energy conference report in secret, just like the Cheney Task Force did its work shrouded in secrecy. But Democrats, who represent 49 percent of an evenly divided Senate, have a lot that they can contribute to help ensure our nation has an energy policy that enhances national security, benefits consumers, revitalizes our economy, creates American jobs and protects the environment. So, be wary of this week’s “daily bipartisan meetings.” There are meetings, and there are REAL meetings. The REAL meetings to be in this week are on topics like electricity, MTBE liability, CAFE and nuclear subsidies, where Democrats continue to be locked out of the room.