Pelosi Plans Informal Negotiations on Energy Bill

Thursday, October 11, 2007

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told key committee chairmen yesterday that she does not plan to convene a formal conference committee on an energy bill but that informal negotiations will be held to produce a final measure.

House Democrats blamed Senate Republicans for blocking the convening of a conference committee to reconcile the two vastly different energy bills passed by the House and the Senate this year.

But some lobbyists said informal talks might make it easier for Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (Nev.) to iron out differences among House Democrats themselves over key matters such as automobile fuel efficiency and mandates for the use of ethanol and renewable sources of electricity.

Pelosi said in a statement that she still views energy legislation as "a top priority."

Democratic leaders have used informal negotiations to deal with legislation on ethics reform, children's health care and prescription drugs.

"The decision of the GOP in the Senate to block efforts to go to conference on the energy bill has forced Democrats to take a different path," said Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), who attended the meeting with the speaker.

-- Steven Mufson

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