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After months of work by congressional and industry backers, the omnibus energy bill stumbled just short of the finish line, thanks to a plank related to the gasoline additive, MTBE. By a 57-40 vote, senators failed to invoke cloture (the procedure to end debate and force a final vote) on the bill, blocking it from final consideration. An unlikely mix of environmentalists and fiscal conservatives blocked the bill, based on a section that contained MTBE lawsuit restrictions. They also objected to the bill’s $25.7 billion in tax breaks and $5.4 billion in federal spending. “I warned our Republican friends that they were going to load up this bill to a point where it couldn’t pass,” said Sen. Minority Leader Tom Daschle (Democrat – South Dakota), who did support the bill. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (Republican – Tennessee) was more succinct: “We just couldn’t get all sides to agree.” Along with Sens. Pete Domenici (Republican – New Mexico) and Larry Craig (Republican – Idaho), IPAA and API vowed to bring the bill back for consideration this month, as quickly as possible. “All policy choices are compromises; some of them are difficult ones,” lamented IPAA.
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