Senators ask for Congress-White House energy summit
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Senators on Friday asked for a national summit between Congress and President George W. Bush to end a partisan stalemate and develop a plan for solving America's ongoing energy crisis.
"We believe it is imperative that Congress work through the entire spectrum of potential solutions and develop policies to improve our national energy security and end our reliance on foreign oil," Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe and fellow Democrat Ben Nelson said in a letter to Senate leaders.
"The partisan stalemate on energy issues must stop and we believe it will require good-faith efforts from both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue," they wrote to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Republican Leader Mitch McConnell.
The call for a energy summit came on the same day that the price for U.S. crude oil hit a record of near $143 a barrel, which will likely be passed on to consumers at the gasoline pump.
Snowe and Nelson said Congress needs to develop consensus proposals to address short-term energy problems and also come up with policies for U.S. long-term national energy security.
They said rising energy prices have become a burden on the American people, with low income households now spending almost 12 percent of their budgets on energy costs.
"Americans are concerned about being able to make the commute to work, heat their homes and put dinner on the table," the lawmakers said. "This is an untenable situation for Americans and we think that all senators can agree that we must work out both short-term and long-term solutions."
"A 'summit' isn't an answer," said White House spokesman Tony Fratto, who added that the Democratic-controlled Congress should act on the president's request to increase domestic oil production.
Bush wants Congress to open more U.S. offshore areas and Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling, so additional supplies can be put in the market and help lower fuel prices. Democrats and many Republicans opposes such a move.
"This is simple economics -- there is not enough supply to meet demand," Fratto said.
(Reporting by Tom Doggett; Additional reporting by Tabassum Zakaria; Editing by Marguerita Choy)
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