Energy Talks Disintegrate

Posted July 22, 2008 at 12:22pm

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said Tuesday afternoon that talks between Democrats and Republicans on an oil market speculation bill have broken down into a stalemate.

Though he left open a window for possible restarting of negotiations on the number and type of amendments that would be offered, Durbin complained that Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) poisoned the well when he told Durbin yesterday that Republicans wanted to offer 28 amendments to the measure.

“What they want is not a debate ending in a vote,” Durbin said. “What they want is a debate that never ends.”

Durbin added, “There is a lack of focus and discipline on the part of Republicans.”

Republicans have said repeatedly that they want a “full and open debate” on the oil speculation measure, because they do not believe that reining in the oil futures market is the only way to address rising gas prices.

Democrats have offered to allow Republicans at least one vote on their bill to expand domestic oil and natural gas drilling, but Republicans have argued that the discussion should be even broader than that.

“To not give this issue the floor time and consideration that it deserves is a real mistake,” one senior Senate Republican aide said.