Amendments Could Derail Speculation Bill

Senate invoked cloture, but passing bill may be harder.

On Tuesday the Senate, by a 94-0 vote, invoked cloture to limit debate on bill that would regulate energy speculation. However politics and amendments may get in the way of a procedural vote on the bill. Much like a climate change bill in June, many believe wrangling over amendments could sound the death knoll of the speculation bill before any substantial votes.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., have been in deadlock, issuing statements accusing each other of not being open to ideas and refusing to negotiate. Majority Whip, Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Minority Whip Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., have been negotiating on an amendment agreement, but Durbin said Tuesday that the discussion has stalled and their part of the talks had gone about as far as they could go. According to Durbin, Democrats had offered Republicans two amendments while the GOP has a list of 28 amendments they want to offer.

Several senators have expressed disappointment in the bickering and how leadership is handling the debate. Ten senators, five from each side of the aisle, have formed a group that wants to compromise and develop a meaningful and comprehensive bill. They plan to draft a bill over the August recess and bring it to the Senate in September with the hope that Congress can do something more on gas prices this year.

"To me, it's healthy because there are so many strongly held views on this and real differences of opinion," says Senator Kent Conrad, D-N.D. "I think it is useful to have a group come in on the side and say 'look both of you are at least half right.'"

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