- The U.S. Senate could take up bipartisan energy legislation this week, but there is still a long road ahead: dozens of amendments have been proposed, and at least one lawmaker has placed a hold on the bill.
- But there has still been progress, E&E Publishing reports. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) said she and other lawmakers have been working to generate support for a consent agreement, allowing a voice vote on the amendments. She reiterated her confidence that the bill could be passed this week at a an energy innovation conference outside Washington, D.C.
- However, Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) has placed a hold on the legislation, preventing it from moving forward. There are rumblings that Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) has as well, but E&E said Vitter's office did not return calls for comment.
- Introduced by Murkowski and Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), the Energy Policy Modernization Act aims to help modernize the grid and reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund.
The Senate is close to passing the most sweeping energy legislation in almost a decade, and the chair of the Senate Energy Committee is signaling confidence a deal can be reached. Speaking at an energy conference in Houston last week, E&E reports Murkowski said if an agreement is reached things could move very quickly.
The Senate could move the bill "in very short order, and when I say very short order, the time to process eight amendments, we can kick it out in an afternoon and be done," Murkowski said.
But she also cautioned, "the proposal that we have laid down to colleagues is one that is not only the base bill but it is also a series of over 30 different amendments that we are prepared to take by voice, that even though that consent has been worked out between myself and the ranking member and our leadership, it still needs to be reviewed by colleagues."
At the ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit outside Washington, D.C. on Tuesday morning, Murkowski said that after accepting dozens of amendments by roll-call and voice vote in recent weeks, the bill will go back to the floor of the chamber, where lawmakers are "now hopefully poised to be advancing that measure."
The bill passed the Energy and Natural Resources Committee in July on an 18-4 vote. Among those voting against it was presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT). It was set for passage at the beginning of last month before an impasse over funding for the water crisis in Flint, Michigan forced lawmakers to postpone votes on the final amendments to the bill. E&E reports that the Flint aid will now be considered as a part of a separate bill.