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

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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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You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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