Democratic News

Many of you are wondering whether Sen. Bill Nelson’s conditional support of S. 3711 (the Senate’s Gulf drilling bill) means that the legislation will pass next week.   If it does, the next question will be, “What happens now?”
 
Yesterday, we got the answer.  In separate messages to Sen. Nelson, Senate Leadership said the House of Representatives has one option: pass the Senate bill, without amendment and without a conference, and send it to the President.   Everything else is off the table.
 
Text of both of messages is printed in today’s Congressional Record.  The language is clear on its face.  
 
BACKGROUND:  The House of Representatives has passed a highly problematic drilling bill (H.R.4761) that would be paired with S.3711 in a conference.  That worries many senators, both Democrats and Republicans.  It even troubles senators who support more offshore drilling, like Jeff Bingaman.  Public dismissals by key House GOP leaders and their staffs of the notion that the House would pass the Senate bill in lieu of asking for a conference have only added to that anxiety.
 
Sen. Bingaman still opposes S.3711 and will vote against it, for the same reasons he outlined in his floor speeches this week.  In terms of expanding our nation’s energy supply, the bill takes us in the wrong direction over the long term.  And, of course, Jeff remains concerned about the enormous revenue shift that would result from the new entitlement program that would be created for Gulf Coast states if this legislation becomes law.
 
Back to the prospects for a conference -- a sports analogy from soccer might be appropriate: “The One-Touch Rule.”   Given the unequivocal and unambiguous assurances that Senate Leadership has given to Bill Nelson, it’s safe to conclude that, if S.3711 passes next week, it will be the Senate’s “one touch” on this legislation.
 
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