Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) yesterday hailed wealthy environmentalist Tom Steyer's emerging involvement in politics as a means to spotlight issues such as climate change and the Keystone XL pipeline.
Reid made the comments after speaking at a screening of clips from a film critical of politically active conservative energy magnates Charles and David Koch, whom he has slammed repeatedly by name ahead of this fall's elections -- drawing Republican cries of hypocrisy given Democrats' increasing ties to the Steyer campaign war chest.
Such GOP comparisons between the Kochs and Steyer, Reid told E&E Daily, bolster his push for a constitutional amendment limiting money in politics "so we don't have to choose which billionaire we like the most."
Nonetheless, the Nevadan added, "I'm very happy that there are people out there willing to spend some money to focus on things like" KXL and climate change. "We need people like Tom Steyer."
Steyer's advisers today plan to brief reporters on the scope of a long-planned bid to elevate climate change in the midterm elections that could reach $100 million at both the congressional and gubernatorial levels.
Senate Democrats plan next month to vote on the proposed amendment curbing campaign spending out of committee, setting up a floor debate later this summer that is expected to see Republicans reject the measure.
Reid also yesterday parried long-running GOP complaints that minority-driven filibusters of Senate legislation, such as a bipartisan energy efficiency bill that fell earlier this month, are on the rise in response to his aggressive use of parliamentary procedure to limit amendments.
"They've broken our hearts -- my heart," Reid told reporters of the GOP, citing the energy efficiency bill's demise. Committee chairmen are "as strong as they ever were, if we could get things on the floor."
Reid pointed to the Energy and Natural Resources Committee as a victim of obstructionism, charging that "one senator has held up hundreds of bills out of that committee alone." Spokesmen for both Democrats and Republicans on that panel did not return requests to elaborate on Reid's remarks by publication time.
The majority leader's appearance at the anti-Koch documentary alongside House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) sparked controversy unto itself as a senior House Republican questioned the use of Capitol Visitor Center facilities to promote "partisan politics" (E&E Daily, May 20).