House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced Tuesday the House will take up a comprehensive energy bill that includes an expansion of offshore drilling sometime this week.
However, several Democrats raised concerns with the package in a closed door meeting with Pelosi preceding the announcement, as Democratic leaders worked to hammer out a compromise that would ensure the support of all rank and file members.
At a press conference with reporters Tuesday afternoon, Pelosi sought to lay down a marker for her Republican colleagues, who have been pushing their own energy plan which includes a larger expansion of domestic drilling.
“Republicans must set-aside their drill-only [stance]” said Pelosi. “It will come down to whose side they are on; The American taxpayers or big oil.”
While Pelosi cautioned that the details of the bill are still being ironed out, she said the package will include an expansion of offshore drilling off the coast of "at least" four southeastern states, a repeal of subsidies for large oil companies and an expansion of alternative energy.
House Democrats are hoping to have the bill on the floor by Thursday.
However, in a caucus meeting preceding Pelosi’s press conference, Democratic sources in the room said many members of the caucus expressed concerns with the package.
According to one Democratic aide in the room, several members of the conservative Blue Dog Coalition told Pelosi they wanted the bill to allow other states to drill off their coasts.
“There were some concerns from the Blue Dogs, there were some concerns from the progressives and there were some concerns from members in red state districts,” said the aide.
However, the aide said Rep. Ed Markey, long known as a leader of the environmentalist wing of the party, gave the proposal his blessing in the meeting, which could be a key part of securing support from those members opposed to an expansion of offshore drilling.
Other Democratic aides who attended the meeting said the concerns raised by some members of the caucus was simply part the process of crafting a package acceptable to all parties.
House Democratic Caucus Chairman Rahm Emanuel said the caucus would meet again on Wednesday and would have a clearer picture of the final shape of the bill after that.
Both Pelosi and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said the bill would not be brought up under suspension, which would give Republicans a chance to offer their own energy legislation