Dems Indicate Energy Bill Support

The Bush Administration has been gambling that legislation boosting the use of ethanol and other alternative fuels would make it hard for Midwestern Democrats to oppose the Republican-written energy bill and it appears to have won that bet.

After weeks of threatening to block the energy bill and calling it a multi-billion dollar givaway for the oil and gas industry, key Senate Democrats indicated support for the legislation, which was cleared by a House-Senate conference committee on Monday.

Democratic Sens. Byron Dorgan of North Dakota, Tim Johnson of South Dakota and Max Baucus of Montana joined Senate Republicans on the Conference Committee in voting 10-3 in favor of the bill.

Senate and House negotiators met for seven hours on Monday before approving the final bill language, Reuters News Service reported. House members rejected attempts by the Senate to change ethanol tax credits, to require utilities to use renewable fuels and to drop a tax loophole for sport utility vehicles.

According to Reuters, the unofficial cost of an array of tax breaks in the broad energy bill has climbed to at least $23.4 billion, roughly triple the amount sought by the Bush administration.

The energy bill could now come up for a full House vote as early as Tuesday and should pass easily.

Sen. Pete Domenici, R, N.M., the bill manager, told Reuters he hoped to hold a Senate vote on Wednesday or Thursday. "I think we could have a pretty big vote," said Domenici, referring to the large number of Democrats he believes will vote for it.

Editors note: Richard Brock, The Corn and Soybean Digest's Marketing Editor, is president of Brock Associates, a farm market advisory firm, and publisher of The Brock Report.

To see more market perspectives, visit Brock's Web site at www.brockreport.com.