NPR logo Reid Blames GOP For Energy Bill Failure But Not All Democrats Were On Board

Reid Blames GOP For Energy Bill Failure But Not All Democrats Were On Board

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) (right) speaks to the media as Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) looks on during a news briefing Thursday. Alex Wong/Getty Images North America hide caption

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Alex Wong/Getty Images North America

The comprehensive energy bill that was among President Obama's top priorities is dead.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid administered the last rites today, directing the blame at the Republicans.  Not one, he said, was willing to come on board, which he called "terribly disappointing."

The bill, which would limit carbon emissions, has been a work in progress since January 2009.  At one point, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) had been working with Democrats on crafting a compromise, but that fell apart in June.  Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), the lead sponsor of the bill who appeared with Reid, said, "We've always known from day one that to pass comprehensive energy reform, you've got to have 60 votes.  As we stand here today we don't have one Republican vote."

But they didn't have all 59 Democratic votes either.

Some Democrats, notably those in coal-producing and manufacturing states, agree with the GOP argument that the bill would lead to higher energy costs.  The Washington Post's Perry Bacon points out the difficulty Reid had in getting his troops in line:

In truth, despite weeks of meetings to reach a compromise, Democrats themselves were deeply divided on the legislation. ...

A group of Democrats whose states produce coal, such as Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.V.) thought the bill could lead to increased energy costs in their states, while others worried about pushing such a controversial political issue after Democrats had already passed the stimulus and health-care bills.

Darren Samuelsohn and Coral Davenport write about the Democrats' divisions in Politico:

On one side are those who say it’s too late to move even a modest energy measure, and are urging colleagues to abandon their efforts and bring up a small package of offshore drilling reforms next week before heading home.

On the other are ardent liberals, who are mounting a last-ditch campaign to push through an ambitious climate bill with a cap on greenhouse gas emissions.

The bill will now be scaled down to respond to the oil spill in the Gulf.