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GOP Blocks Scaled-Back Energy Bill

Sen. Harry Reid Louie Traub

Updated 4:26 p.m. Eastern

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has given up on efforts to pass a scaled-back energy bill dealing in part with offshore drilling amid unified opposition from Senate Republicans.

"We tried jujitsu. We tried yoga. We tried everything we can with Republicans to get them to come along with us and be reasonable," Reid said in announcing the decision.

The scaled-back bill, which is far weaker than the climate and energy bill passed by the House last year, includes offshore drilling reforms, among them the removal of the $75 million liability cap for oil companies when it comes to oil spills. It also included clean car and clean energy jobs provisions.

Reid said he could not find Republicans to support the bill and vowed to hold a vote after the Senate returns from its August recess next month. He had wanted to hold a procedural vote on the energy package on Wednesday.

Republicans, who can block votes via filibuster despite their minority status, say they need more time to consider the bill.

The Senate's inability to pass a bill this month means that at least four months will have passed between the BP oil spill and passage of any legislation addressing offshore drilling.

Reid said "it's clear the Republicans remain determined to stand in the way of everything," though he also said he accepts "in good faith" Republican claims they need more time to judge the merits of the bill.

The Senate majority leader said his hope is that more time "will lead to a reasonable discussion and their support."

Democratic Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, meanwhile, cast Republicans as a "just say no" caucus making decisions "for narrow partisan reasons."

"Here we are being blocked from even doing the bare minimum that this moment deserves," he said.

Robert Dillon, a spokesman for Republicans on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, told Politico that the decision by Reid, who planned to bring the bill up for a vote without amendments, reflects the fact that "the majority leader can't work in bipartisan manner to help the residents in the Gulf."

Democratic Sens. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) and Mark Begich (D-Alaska) had made clear that they opposed eliminating the liability cap, raising questions about Reid's claim that he had the unified support of Senate Democrats.

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