Dems hope for energy bill momentum after ‘inspirational’ caucus

DEMS HOPE FOR ENERGY BILL MOMENTUM AFTER ‘INSPIRATIONAL’ CAUCUS…. With time running out, and expectations low, Senate leaders working on a energy/climate bill still hope to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, and took the case to the Senate Democratic caucus room today with the hopes of firing up members. Participants left feeling encouraged.

Democrats put on a show of unity this afternoon, claiming a special caucus on energy legislation was an emotional and inspirational success of the first proportion.

Though they seem to lack the votes for a carbon cap, party leaders emphasized the “inspirational” nature of their discussion, attempting to throw some momentum behind legislation that has so far lacked it.

“A number of senators said this was the best caucus they’ve ever attended,” Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) said at a press conference after the meeting. “It was really very, very powerful. It was inspirational, quite frankly.”

Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), who has made climate legislation his hallmark issue, said the meeting was one of the most successful he’d ever attended.

Indeed, Kerry’s office sent out a press release this afternoon, quoting the senator saying, “I just left one of the most motivating, energized, and even inspirational caucuses that I’ve been a part of since I’ve been here in the Senate for 26 years.”

Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), partnering with Kerry on the energy bill, added, “The Senate Democratic caucus that I just attended was absolutely thrilling. And by that I mean it was an uprising of the rank and file members of the caucus speaking with passion and purpose in favor of enacting strong comprehensive energy independence legislation this year.”

This sounds great, and I’m glad members are feeling energized (no pun intended), but are we any closer now to regulating carbon emissions and combating global warming than we were yesterday? Probably not. The caucus seems largely united behind the idea of doing something — which is, to be sure, good to hear — but the challenge of putting together a worthwhile bill, and overcoming scandalous Republican obstructionism, is still daunting to the point of dejection.

A spokesperson for Harry Reid said that the final energy bill “will need broad bipartisan support” in order to come to the floor. Since exactly zero major pieces of legislation have enjoyed “broad bipartisan support” in this Congress, I’ll continue to keep my expectations in check.

Support Nonprofit Journalism

If you enjoyed this article, consider making a donation to help us produce more like it. The Washington Monthly was founded in 1969 to tell the stories of how government really works—and how to make it work better. Fifty years later, the need for incisive analysis and new, progressive policy ideas is clearer than ever. As a nonprofit, we rely on support from readers like you.

Yes, I’ll make a donation

Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.