Lieberman says efforts over health care, midterm politics killed energy billBy Stephen Singer, AP
Monday, October 4, 2010
Lieberman: Health care, politics nixed energy bill
CROMWELL, Conn. — Sen. Joe Lieberman on Monday blamed exhaustion in Congress from efforts to pass health care legislation and midterm politics for the Senate’s failure to approve an energy bill capping greenhouse gases.
The Connecticut Independent, who worked on the federal legislation, said the enormous effort to enact changes in the country’s health care system in March crowded out other priorities.
“Congress was suffering from what might be called post health-care reform traumatic stress syndrome,” Lieberman said at a conference on energy policy organized by the Connecticut Business & Industry Association.
Lieberman worked on the energy bill with Democratic Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts and Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.
Despite the bipartisan effort, the approaching elections came with criticism by Republicans and others that so-called cap-and-trade legislation restricting heat-trapping carbon emissions would increase taxes and kill jobs.
“My colleagues, for reasons I understand but was disappointed by, got risk averse,” Lieberman said. “You can’t pass a major change like this if you’re risk averse.”
President Barack Obama had hoped to add the energy bill to the two biggest legislative successes of his presidency, a comprehensive health care law and an overhaul of the U.S. banking and financial sector.
The Senate’s majority Democrats pulled the bill in July. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said then that no Republican senator would back a comprehensive energy and climate bill and the measure lacked the 60 votes needed for passage.
Lieberman warned of environmental hazards because of climate change and economic dangers from U.S. dependence on foreign oil. Congress will return to the issue, perhaps as early as a lame duck session after the Nov. 2 elections but more likely in 2011, he said.
Lieberman told reporters after his talk that if Republicans boost their number of seats in Congress in November, they may be under pressure to approve some type of energy legislation rather than continue their opposition.
“I think with an increasing number of Republicans in Congress comes increasing responsibility to deal with challenges we’ve got and to try to take advantage of opportunities,” he said.
Tags: Barack Obama, Connecticut, Cromwell, Energy Policy, Environmental Concerns, Environmental Laws And Regulations, Government Regulations, Health Care Reform, Industry Regulation, John Kerry, North America, Political Issues, United States