On Hill, Toughest Debate Is Often What To Do First

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NPR's Senior News Analyst Daniel Schorr says the congressional fight over the financial overhaul is obscuring a series of issues facing Congress that are arguably more important in the long run — all concern energy.


Today, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced he would push for energy legislation before he asks the Senate to take on immigration. This comes after Republican Senator Lindsey Graham pulled out of negotiations over the energy bill on Saturday. He was upset over the possibility the Senate might debate immigration first, after the uproar over a controversial state immigration law in Arizona. Reid says the energy bill is ready and there's no reason to wait.

As NPR's senior news analyst, Daniel Schorr, points out, sometimes, the toughest decision before Congress is what to do first.

DANIEL SCHORR: On Capitol Hill, the legislators addressed financial reform with a series of slow downs and dispersed with showdowns, all this against a chorus of finger-pointing at investment bankers. Goldman Sachs has been called into committee confessional to atone for its dubious mortgage deals.

This is politics American style, featuring the drama of combat that may, we're not quite sure, may affect the outcome of the November election.

There's less attention being paid to a series of environmental developments that may affect the fate of our beleaguered globe. Awaiting action is a bipartisan climate change bill. It's competing for attention with immigration reform.

Along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, the Coast Guard is coping with an expanding oil spill resulting from an explosion on a drilling platform. It raises new questions about offshore drilling, on which President Obama has eased restrictions.

In Massachusetts, the first offshore wind farm has been approved off Cape Cod. And in the Midwest, President Obama talks of wind energy projects, but in Congress, the battle over Wall Street goes on.

And then there is - lest we forget - the Massey Energy coal mine in West Virginia where 29 miners died in an explosion. There had been repeated warnings of safety violations.

At the memorial service, President Obama said these miners lived as they died in pursuit of the American dream. The fruit of their labor, he said, is the electricity that lights our churches and homes.

What price energy? The administration and Congress will look at tightening mine safety regulations. But more hot button issues in this election year are the bankers and the immigrants.

This is Daniel Schorr.

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