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Amy Harder
Congress Daily
June 20, 2010

Two senators who have authored climate and energy proposals have not been actively seeking backers for their legislation, despite indications of potential support from some key moderate senators from both parties.

Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairman Jeff Bingaman wrote a bill pricing carbon emissions of power plants and Sen. Richard Lugar,R-Ind.,

has authored an energy-only proposal. But their inaction speaks volumes as Sens. John Kerry, D-Mass., and Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., scramble to garner support from colleagues as well as industry and environmental groups to give Senate Majority Leader Reid a carbon pricing system to offer on the floor next week.

A spokeswoman would not confirm if or when Reid plans to introduce his broad climate and energy package, which he said last week he was hoping to do this week. That uncertainty coming from Reid's office is telling, given the dwindling legislative calendar that, as Kerry said last week, is becoming the biggest barrier for Democrats.

The Senate has three weeks left until the August recess and a litany of legislative items to wrap up, energy being the most controversial and far-reaching. Bingaman and Lugar both have concerns about how much the Senate can do on this issue before Aug. 6, and they don't want to waste time on legislation that isn't going anywhere.

"We're available. I'm not reaching out. This is not an aggressive situation," Lugar told CongressDaily late last week. "In the event Sen. Reid is going to make time for this sort of legislation, I'm sure we'll get involved in some more conversations." A Lugar aide said Monday that Reid has not been in contact with his office about incorporating provisions of Lugar's bill into the broader package. Lugar's office has reached out to many Senate offices about supporting his bill, but not in recent weeks.

For his part, Bingaman has said repeatedly recently that he does not think a utility-only price on carbon can get 60 votes. A spokesman for Bingaman reiterated Monday that the senator isn't spending a lot of time on the bill, since he has said it can't get 60 votes. Bingaman has not reached out to many senators about his utility-only proposal, although Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, has worked with him on it.

Bingaman's committee approved an energy-only bill last year and last month passed legislation that addresses the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Both are expected to be included in Reid's package.

Lugar's energy-only measure has the potential to garner support, chiefly from moderate senators of both parties, which is lacking in the utility-only proposal sponsored by Kerry and Lieberman.

A Senate aide said last week Reid is planning on including Kerry and Lieberman's utility-only proposal in his broader package. Several senators who are either uncertain "yes" votes on a carbon-pricing system or definite "no" votes have expressed initial support for provisions in Lugar's bill, including Sens. George Voinovich, R-Ohio, John (Jay) Rockefeller, D-W.Va., and John Thune, R-S.D.