This week Congress rejected both Democratic and Republican proposals to avert the so-called budget sequestration cuts that took effect March 1. The Senate failed on a procedural vote (51-49) to pass a Democratic package (S. 388) to delay the sequester with a combination of spending cuts, a surtax on wealthy taxpayers, and elimination of two so-called tax loopholes for business. The Senate also failed to pass (38-62) a Republican proposal to give President Obama more flexibility on where to cut spending while prohibiting any tax increases. Both measures needed 60 votes for passage.

Attention now turns to a continuing resolution or omnibus spending bill that is needed to keep the Federal government operating past March 27. The House could vote as early as March 6 on a continuing appropriations package authored by House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY).

The Bipartisan Policy Center issued a plan February 27 that is intended to serve as a blueprint for congressional action on comprehensive energy legislation. The plan, America’s Energy Resurgence: Sustaining Success, Continuing Challenges, is the result of a two-year project co-chaired by former Senators Byron Dorgan (D-ND) and Trent Lott (R-MS). It makes 50 recommendations aimed at diversifying the nations’ energy supply, accelerating innovation and technology improvements, and coordinating government oversight and accountability.