Making time for energy

MAKING TIME FOR ENERGY…. President Obama hosted a White House meeting yesterday with Senate Democratic leaders, exploring what can and should be passed over the next two weeks. There was agreement on three measures to be completed before lawmakers break for their August recess: (1) Wall Street reform, which should pass tomorrow; (2) extending unemployment benefits, which will likely pass on Tuesday; and (3) tax breaks intended to boost small-business lending.

Based on accounts, the discussion focused on the very short-term, and a pending energy/climate bill was not part of the meeting. But that doesn’t mean the issue is dead, only that it won’t be finished before lawmakers break for August.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said yesterday that work on the energy bill will begin before the recess — probably the week of the 26th — to be completed when lawmakers return. But that’s not until Sept. 13, and the schedule will be very crowded, especially with the Kagan nomination and spending bills for the wars on deck.

Today, President Obama signaled his desire to make sure the energy bill doesn’t slip through the cracks.

President Obama has invited select Democratic senators to join him for lunch at the White House on Wednesday to talk about energy legislation as he and Senate Democrats resolve to make a strong push to pass a bill before the August recess, according to an official briefed on the situation.

The White House also added to Mr. Obama’s schedule on Wednesday an afternoon meeting with former President Bill Clinton and business leaders to discuss job creation and ways to make new investments in clean energy.

The hope, apparently, is to keep cap-and-trade so narrow, some Republican votes — specifically Lindsey Graham, Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins, and Scott Brown — might be in play, at least enough to let the Senate have an up-or-down vote.

How narrow? Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) are circulating the latest draft of their cap-and-trade measure, which has been scaled back to the much-discussed “utilities only” approach. Andrew Restuccia has a copy of the language making the rounds.

As for the rest of the possible legislative wish list, it’s probably safe to assume that immigration reform will not make any progress for the rest of this session.