Majority Leader: House Dems 'Not Going to be Locked into One Giant Bill'

House Democrats plan to bring several smaller energy bills to the floor by early summer instead of a single, comprehensive measure, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said yesterday.

Energy legislation would emerge from several committees in the next few months and arrive on the floor individually, Hoyer told reporters.

"My view is that we are not going to be locked into one giant bill," Hoyer said. "There may well be a series of bills, and we may not get it all done."

Hoyer said he expects the first energy bill to arrive on the House floor in late June but added that some measures could slide down the calendar as the House works to complete appropriations. House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey (D-Wis.) has said his goal is to complete all spending bills by June 30.

When asked what energy legislation might be on tap, Hoyer indicated that Democrats will focus on developing alternative fuel technologies -- chiefly, ethanol.

But Hoyer also said committees will likely consider coal-to-liquids technology and nuclear power.

"We also want to have additional research, obviously, on alternative energy sources," Hoyer said. "The president mentioned coal, he wants to focus on that. Nuclear will have to be, obviously, in this mix."

Additionally, Hoyer listed climate change as one of the issues that he expects the House to address as part of its energy push.

The House is already slated to move one energy bill this week, H.R. 547, the "Advanced Fuel Infrastructure Research and Development Act." The House is slated to vote on the measure tomorrow. That bill appears to be noncontroversial as it cleared the House Science Committee last week by a unanimous vote and also cleared the chamber last year by a voice vote.

Committee chairs planning markups

As for other agenda items, Hoyer said he met with committee chairmen this morning and several indicated that they will start reporting out bills next week.

Although the House has been in session for more than a month, Democrats have focused thus far on organizational matters and moving a handful of their top legislative priorities. To date, only a small number of bills have gone through committees.

When asked about their schedule for the next few months, Democratic leaders have ticked off a number of priorities but have yet to offer a specific agenda.

Rep. Rahm Emmanuel (Ill.), the House's fourth-highest ranking Democrat, told reporters he expects party leaders to lay out a plan for the next six months sometime in the next few days.

One item that is already on the Democrats' relative near-term agenda is the budget. Hoyer said he expects the Budget Committee to mark up the budget bill around March 15, and the resolution will likely come to the floor the following week.

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