Update on the Energy Bill

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The best thing about retiring members: their honesty. Reporters yesterday asked Senator George Voinovich of Ohio, one of the few key GOP votes Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is trying to lure on to his energy bill, what he thought of Reid’s proposal. Voinovich didn’t pull any punches and his answer pretty much sums up the odds of passing energy legislation this summer:

Q. Have you had a chance to look at Senator Reid’s energy bill?
No, I haven’t seen it. Can I be very candid with you?

Q. I would love that.
This whole thing is very cynical. Because any body who has been in the Senate for any period of time knows that there’s no way – no way – that an energy bill is going to get done between now and the election or between now and the end of the year.

Q. By that do you mean energy only?
I’m talking about an energy bill as envisioned by Senator Kerry. I think maybe you might be able to – and by the way Jeff Bingaman’s never even been asked about his bill and what he’s been doing and many of us think very simply if you got several senators in a room and said, ‘Look why don’t we see if we can’t hammer out something that can get 60 votes,’ I think an energy-only bill, maybe changing the renewable energy standard to include nuclear and clean coal, perhaps the Rockefeller bill that I introduced with him, maybe a nuclear title – maybe we could get that done. But even under the best of circumstances you’re not going to have the timing to get this done. And if you put this out and say, ‘We’re really serious about this,’ any body that’s out there regardless of where they’re coming from against or for is going to say, ‘Gimme a break. This is just going through the motions maybe to satisfy some people in your conference but don’t kid us about we’re going to come forward with this thing and it’s going to be serious.’