Reid: GOP holding energy bill 'hostage'

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Monday blasted Republicans for holding "hostage" an energy efficiency bill.

Reid said GOP demands for votes on five amendments to the bill threatened to prevent the Senate from functioning.

"The Shaheen-Portman bill is a chance for a fresh start for the Senate, really a new beginning," Reid said in remarks opening the Senate for the week. "But the implications of this legislation extend far beyond energy efficiency. It goes to the integrity of this Senate that we care so much about."

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"They've held this bill hostage," Reid said. "Demand after demand has been meet. But even now, they're still seeking a ransom."

The Senate will vote at 5:30 p.m. Monday on whether to end debate on the energy efficiency bill. Sixty votes are needed to advance the legislation to a final passage vote.

Reid has offered to allow a vote on legislation to authorize the construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline if the Senate passes an energy efficiency bill from Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio). But Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has said his caucus won't cede a filibuster unless the GOP gets votes on at least five amendments.

Reid said that Republicans kept changing the goalposts for an agreement on passing the energy efficiency bill, which was also unable to clear a filibuster hurdle last September.

"Democrats have acted in good faith and we've bent over backwards to make this bill work," Reid said. "But it seems our efforts are never enough. Each concession we make brings new demands."

Reid argued that Republicans' changing demands for the energy efficiency bill illustrated Senate dysfunction.

"Look at how Republican obstruction is bringing the Senate to its knees again and again and again," Reid said. "This useless, mind-boggling obstruction is what continually the grinds the wheels of the Senate to a screeching halt."