By Susan Ferrechio Chief Congressional Correspondent
The scaled-down version of energy legislation Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid introduced Tuesday is far from the comprehensive overhaul many Democrats had been hoping for.
So some lawmakers are setting their sights on the "lame duck" session in Congress following the November election as an opportunity to add provisions to the bill aimed at curbing greenhouse gas emissions and reducing the nation's energy consumption.
"My hope is we can do much better than that," Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., said of the Reid bill, which focuses mainly on the Gulf oil spill cleanup, oversight of coastal drilling and little else. "I think we are missing a major opportunity here to do something that is not only good for the environment, but actually good for job creation. Maybe after November hopefully people will take a deep breath and be able to come back here do it."
House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, sounded the "lame duck" alarm bells Tuesday morning, saying voters should contact their representatives over the upcoming summer recess and ask them to pledge not to use the post-election weeks to take up a bill that would cap greenhouse gas emissions, which he and most Republicans say will raise energy bills and hurt businesses.
"We should all be calling on the Democrats to pledge that they won't do this," Boehner said. "Put them on record."
A year ago, the House passed an aggressive energy and climate change bill that would create a "cap and trade" system to limit pollution and require that 20 percent of all electricity come from renewable sources by 2020.
The bill passed by a narrow margin in the House, but a similar version landed with a thud in the Senate, where moderate Democrats made it clear they would never vote for legislation that might raise energy prices in an election year.
Instead, Reid on Tuesday introduced a bill aimed mostly at ensuring BP pays the entire cost of the cleanup in the Gulf and that oil companies put safety measures in place to reduce the chance of future spills.
Reid conceded the bill "does not address every issue of importance to our nation's energy challenges, and we have to continue to work to find bipartisan agreement on a comprehensive bill to help reduce pollution and deal with the very real threat that global warming poses."
In an interview with The Washington Examiner, Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., who serves as assistant to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said, "You are not going to have that kind of post-election surprise." But a top Democratic aide later conceded the leadership has not even begun considering the post-election agenda. "We haven't ruled anything out," the aide said.