The Senate will debate a comprehensive energy efficiency bill the last week of July, marking the first time the upper chamber will consider substantive energy legislation since 2007, a Senate Democratic aide told The Hill on Tuesday.
The aide said lawmakers are still negotiating a deal on amendments suitable to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), but that the Nevada Democrat has signaled he'll schedule the bill for a vote.
Controversial amendments held up a similar version of the bill, sponsored by Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio), last session. Insiders say Reid was reluctant to trigger a vote on a menu of messaging bills ranging from the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline and greenhouse gas emissions regulations.
This time around, Shaheen and Portman have tried to persuade colleagues to withhold contentious provisions. Shaheen had told The Hill last week that the lawmakers were more concerned about reducing the number of amendments offered rather than their substance.
The bill would authorize an array of initiatives designed to encourage energy conservation by the federal government, manufacturers and homeowners.
It has broad support both on and off the Hill. It passed the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee in May with a 19-3 vote and has picked up endorsements from groups such as the Chamber of Commerce, Natural Resources Defense Council, Alliance to Save Energy and the National Association of Manufacturers.
Chief among the bill’s contents is a directive that the federal government, one of the largest energy consumers in the world, employ energy-saving practices at its buildings.
It also would provide incentives for manufacturers to install more energy-efficient technologies at their facilities, promote workforce training and create voluntary, model building codes for new buildings.
Reid's office did not respond to a request for comment.
— This story was updated at 9:41 a.m. on July 17.