Democrats put off tax cut vote

WASHINGTON — Senate Democratic leaders decided Thursday to delay a vote on preserving soon-to-expire middle class tax cuts until after congressional elections in November.

President Obama has made extending the cuts a priority, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid tried to forge a consensus among fellow Democrats to pass a bill before voters choose their representatives and senators on Nov. 2.

But Reid, a Democrat from Nevada, decided to delay any vote after a meeting with other Senate Democrats failed to produce an agreement on how to proceed.

Republicans want to extend all the tax cuts. Obama and Democratic leaders in Congress want to extend them for individuals making less than $200,000 and married couples making less than $250,000.

Energy officials resist pipeline safety bill

WASHINGTON — A bill that would require pipeline operators to report oil spills, gas leaks and other incidents within one hour doesn't provide enough time, energy industry officials said Thursday.

The industry is under scrutiny after a natural gas explosion in California this month that killed seven people and destroyed dozens of homes and a pipeline accident in Michigan in late July that spewed 1 million gallons of oil into the Kalamazoo River .

Industry officials also told the House Energy and Commerce Committee's energy subcommittee at a hearing that they want the federal government to force states to eliminate exemptions that allow state and local agencies to dig in the vicinity of oil and gas pipelines without notification.