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No Energy Bill Until September

Harry Reid announced that there would be no vote on an energy bill until after the August recess, after a meeting with his caucus. He said that he has no Republican support for the measure, despite the fact that most of the bill was put forward in a bipartisan way, and that a vote on the package would simply fail.

Earlier, there was a thought that the Senate would hold two separate cloture votes on the Democratic and Republican energy bills, so both sides could say that the other bill didn’t have enough support in the chamber, but that plan has been scrapped.

At least two Democrats, Mary Landrieu and Mark Begich, said they wouldn’t vote for the Senate package in its current form. In particular, they oppose the lifting of the liability cap on oil spills, preferring to keep the cap but raise it from its current $75 million limit. Begich, Landrieu and Mark Pryor are working on a compromise on that provision.

While some more liberal members hope this delay gives them time to debate a broader energy package than this scaled-back energy and oil spill response bill, those members must not have been awake during the past 18 months of this Senate session.

UPDATE: Here’s the full prepared statement from Reid:

“It’s a sad day when not even a single Republican will support a bill that would create up to 700,000 clean energy jobs, and hold BP accountable for the cost of its disaster.

“As you know, we had planned a vote tomorrow on our energy plan. But it’s clear that Republicans remain determined to stand in the way of everything.

“Since Republicans refuse to move forward with any meaningful debate, we will postpone tomorrow’s votes on energy until after the recess. In the interim, we will continue to work to get Republican votes for a strong bill that holds BP accountable, creates jobs, lowers costs and protects the environment.

“The Republicans have proposed an alternative. But Democrats can’t and shouldn’t vote for the Republican bill that doesn’t even hold BP accountable for the enormous economic damages it’s caused to Gulf Coast communities. Their bill doesn’t create a single job, and it doesn’t do anything to end our addiction to oil.

“Several key Republicans have said they need more time to consider our bill and its merits. We’re giving them that chance. I hope it will lead to a reasonable discussion and their support.”

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David Dayen

David Dayen