Majority Leader Harry Reid announced Tuesday that the Senate will postpone the vote on energy and oil spill legislation until lawmakers return from August recess. He called it a "sad day," saying Democrats have been unable to muster support for the bill from even a "handful" of Republicans.
Also on hand were Sens. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), and John Kerry (D-Mass.), who said the legislation will hold BP accountable and create green jobs for an economy in need. Democrats have already had to significantly scale back the more comprehensive energy proposal that they were hoping for, which included a cap on carbon emissions.
The senators blamed partisan politics for the legislative inertia, with Boxer insisting Democrats should only need a majority -- not a super majority -- to pass legislation.
"We tried jujitsu, we tried yoga, we tried everything we could to get Republicans to come along," Reid said.
Republicans are circulating an alternative bill and many critics have taken issue with lifting the $75-million liability cap on oil companies.
Oil industry allies Sens. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) and Mark Begich (D-Alaska) both said they oppose the liability cap provision and Republicans argue it would make it financially impossible for small and mid-sized companies to afford the insurance necessary to operate in the Gulf of Mexico.
"It's a terrible disappointment..." said Reid. "But we are going to continue fighting for energy legislation." Reid said he will resume negotiations in September and vowed to pass an energy bill this Congress.
The House narrowly passed its spill bill on Friday, 209-193.
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