Dems On Energy Package: Lots of Enthusiasm, Few Actual Details


Senate Democrats emerged from today’s caucus meeting with little in the way of clarity on what their energy package might look like. But they were determined, however, to use the issue as a bludgeon against Republicans.

Senators described a meeting in which caucus members were united in enthusiasm for passing an energy package, but they also said not many specifics were discussed. John Kerry (D-Mass.) described the meeting as “inspirational.” Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) said it was “an uprising of rank and file members of the caucus.” “A number of senators said this was the best caucus they’ve ever attended,” said Majority Leader Harry Reid. But no one could say exactly what a package would look like on energy, climate, or the oil spill. 

Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who has been critical of leadership for advancing weak bills on this subject, said that specifics on climate provisions “wasn’t what was really talked about today.” Kerry indicated, however, that there was agreement that the Senate should act on cutting carbon before the EPA begins regulating it next year. Senators still expect to debate the package following the July 4 recess.

“We’re determined to bring a bill to the floor of the Senate that we think is reasonable, makes sense, and that will help Americans be able to grab ahold of the future,” Kerry said. As for what that bill will be? “You’ll have to see what we come to the floor with,” Kerry said.

There was unanimity, though, to “make sure we are united in a message to the public that even if we lose, we carry a message that has meaning,” said Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ). Sanders also echoed the idea that this could be more of a message vote than anything else next month. “If you’re strong and you’re clear and you win the support of the American people, there are Americans who are Republicans as well, and they are going to put pressure on Republicans as well,” said Sanders.

Majority Whip Dick Durbin said it was “too soon” to know what the package would look like. So in short, not a whole lot of updates on the package yet coming out of today’s caucus meeting.

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  • Kate Sheppard was a staff reporter in Mother Jones' Washington bureau from 2009 to 2013. She is now a senior reporter and the energy and environment editor at The Huffington Post. She can be reached by email at kate (dot) sheppard (at) huffingtonpost (dot) com and you can follow her on Twitter @kate_sheppard.