Energy Policy: Setting the Stage for the Current Debate [Updated February 23, 2004]   [open pdf - 107KB]

"On February 12, 2004, following agreement between the Senate Majority and Minority Leaders, Senator Domenici introduced S. 2095, a revision of the omnibus energy legislation (H.R. 6) reported by a conference committee last November. The revised bill has been described as 'lean' in so far as it is estimated to cost less than $14 billion, in contrast to the $31 billion estimated for H.R. 6. Some of these savings are achieved by delaying the start of some programs and incentives. Under a process known as Rule 14, the bill is immediately on the Senate calendar and can be brought to the floor without passing first through committee. S. 2095 drops what may have been the most contentious provision of H.R. 6 -- the 'safe harbor' provision to protect MTBE [Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether] refiners from product liability suits. Prior to these developments, the House had approved the conference report (246-180) on H.R. 6 on November 18, 2003. On November 21, 2003, a cloture motion to limit debate in the Senate on H.R. 6 failed (57-40). Efforts to secure more votes for the bill carried into 2004, but were unsuccessful. Prior to the most recent developments, there were many different -- and sometimes contradictory -- reports of possible strategies to secure passage of an omnibus bill or some of its provisions. Some have argued that any major changes would not be viable because of the careful regional and political compromises that were reached to get a bill out of conference and through the House. The closest consensus has been that the cost of the bill had to be reduced in light of projected deficits and spending targets."

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CRS Issue Brief for Congress, IB10116
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