House Energized for Next Week

Posted September 12, 2008 at 4:06pm

Barring a hurricane disaster along the Texas coast, the House will kick off the week of Sept. 15 debating a Democratic energy package that appears to lack any GOP support.

Democrats are planning to unveil their comprehensive bill early this week and send it to the floor on Tuesday. While the measure will include language to expand offshore drilling to woo oil patch Democrats and moderates, Republican leaders have already dismissed it as “a sham” because, they say, it lacks incentives for coastal states to drill and will result in no new domestic energy.

Also Tuesday, the House is expected to take up a contentious gun-rights bill for Washington, D.C. On Wednesday, lawmakers will take up the Senate version of the Americans with Disabilities Act amendments. A postponed environmental education bill is also on tap this week.

Democratic leaders continue to deflect questions about the status of a continuing resolution and whether it will contain an extension of a soon-to-expire moratorium on offshore drilling — a move that President Bush has signaled would draw a veto. An Appropriations Committee spokeswoman said no decisions have been made on the timing or contents of the measure.

Also unclear as the session winds down is the future of a stimulus package. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said last week that items in the bill will likely include low-income heating assistance, infrastructure spending, unemployment insurance and Medicaid assistance to states.

In a rare sign of possible bipartisanship on the horizon, House Minority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) last week suggested that a limited stimulus bill could gain Republican support. GOP Members would likely support a bill with low-income heating and unemployment assistance, although attaching other items such as state Medicaid assistance could break the deal, Blunt said.

A Democratic leadership aide said Blunt’s comments are “obviously encouraging.”

House Republicans are holding off on their strategy for the week until they can review the Democratic energy bill.

“Right now, we’re just waiting to see what emerges from the smoke-filled back rooms of the Democrats’ energy meetings,” a senior GOP aide said.