Senate Postpones Republican Energy Bill
Sen. Frank Murkowski (R-AK) announced Friday he is putting off
introducing the Senate Republicans' widely anticipated
comprehensive energy legislation until the week of Feb. 26, at the
After meeting with Vice President Richard Cheney last week,
Murkowski said Senate Republicans would unveil their energy package
this Tuesday, but he later pushed back the date to give the Joint
Senate-House Committee on Taxation time to score the impact of the
bill's proposed tax initiatives on the U.S. Treasury.
Murkowski, chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources
Committee, also said he wanted more time to talk over the
legislation with House members Billy Tauzin (R-LA), chairman of the
House Energy and Commerce Committee, and Joe Barton (R-TX),
chairman of the House Energy and Air Quality Subcommittee.
Murkowski was one of several lawmakers in the Senate and House
that met with Cheney on Capitol Hill last Tuesday. Cheney is head
of a White House task force in charge of developing a national
The centerpiece and most controversial element of the Senate
Republicans' legislation is expected to be a provision to open the
Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to oil and gas drilling.
Asked if ANWR still was in the energy measure, a Senater Energy
committee spokeswoman quipped, "That goes without even asking."
Senate Democrats, led by Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), are likely
to mount a vociferous attack against any legislation that includes
Cheney conferred with a number of other lawmakers, including
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles Grassley (R-IA), House
Majority Whip Tom Delay (R-TX) and Barton. Barton's subcommittee
would have oversight over any energy bill in the House.
Capitol Hill aides and energy industry representatives viewed
the meetings as an encouraging sign. They said they signaled that
the White House is serious about energy. In fact, the Bush
administration is expected to send its own energy legislation to
Congress within the next six to eight weeks.
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