Two weeks ago, word got out that Harry Reid would attempt to push an environmental omnibus bill in the lame-duck session, a bill filled with federal land grabs and new regulations as a way to address a constituency that the Democrats had largely ignored over the last two years. Today, Politico reports in its Morning Energy report that Reid has conceded defeat and will withdraw the bill:
After rolling out a public lands, water and wildlife omnibus Friday afternoon, Harry Reid yesterday abandoned his effort to pass the massive package this year. He will instead work with committee leaders to see which provisions could still advance this session if bundled into smaller packages, a spokeswoman said yesterday.
Reid pitched his omnibus – a bundle of 70-plus measures that would expand conservation measures on federal lands and waterways – as a non-controversial batch of bipartisan bills. But Jim Inhofe and other Senate Republicans demanded the package get more time for review, and House Natural Resources Chairman-elect Doc Hastings vowed to battle the bill in the House.
Some of the proposals were indeed bipartisan, and even Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) announced that he could support those as separate bills. Reid, though, wanted to use those broadly-attractive components to pass a slew of controversial proposals along with the more rational components. In the end, as I predicted two weeks ago, the bill attracted the most common denominator of opposition rather than support, especially in the wake of the midterms.
Practically speaking, that just leaves the Senate with two major items in the lame-duck session: START and the budget. Reid and Mitch McConnell have already agreed to a continuing resolution that will extend current-level spending through mid-March. That has to pass today, as the latest CR runs out at midnight tonight. With the votes appearing to line up for START, the Senate could adjourn by tomorrow or Thursday and put an end to this miserable lame-duck session.