WASHINGTON - Democratic leaders racing to pass energy legislation before Congress adjourns for the fall elections are getting some help from both U.S. senators from Minnesota.
Democrat Amy Klobuchar joined the so-called "Gang of 10" on Thursday, adding her name to a bipartisan group that already included her Republican colleague, Norm Coleman.
The group, which now numbers 20, is pushing for a bill that would encourage state-by-state decisions on offshore drilling and authorize billions of dollars for conservation and alternative energy.
Klobuchar said she was drawn on board by the bill's commitment to alternative and renewable energy incentives. "For me, the decision came down to what was best for our state and keeping these incentives in place," she said.
With Coleman and nine other Republicans publicly supporting the bill, the legislation will reach a filibuster-proof margin, provided that all Senate Democrats get behind it.
Republican leaders have decried the bill's $84 billion cost, but supporters say rolling back certain oil subsidies and tax loopholes would pay for the legislation.
The package could prove difficult to resist for Republicans in tight reelection races. Nearly every potentially vulnerable Senate Republican, from Coleman to Elizabeth Dole of North Carolina and John Sununu of New Hampshire, has signed on to the legislation.
Meanwhile, over in the House, Speaker Nancy Pelosi is working on a comprehensive energy bill that would end a moratorium on coastal drilling, allowing states to decide whether to lease drilling sites 50 miles off their coastlines. A vote on the House measure is expected to come together sometime next week.
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