Flint crisis threatens to derail energy bill
© Lauren Schneiderman
A key Senate Democrat is warning that a wide-ranging energy reform bill could be in jeopardy without a deal on the Flint, Mich., drinking water crisis. 
"Well, if they don't work with us, I think it's a big question of whether they get cloture," Sen. Debbie StabenowDeborah (Debbie) Ann StabenowSenate Finance Dems want more transparency on trade from Trump Prominent Michigan Republican drops out of Senate primary GOP chairman shoots down Democrat effort to delay tax work until Jones is seated MORE (D-Mich.) told reporters on Wednesday. "If they want an energy bill, then they need to help us." 
Asked if Democrats are prepared to block the energy bill, Stabenow said that she would see what happened on Wednesday.
"I have, as a senator, tools to use," she added. 
Those tools could include blocking other amendments from getting a vote or working with her colleagues to block Republicans from getting the six Democrats they'll need to overcome Thursday's procedural hurdle.
Asked if she has the support of Democratic leadership, the Michigan Democrat said that "they will support whatever we feel is the right course." 
Stabenow's remarks mark a shift from Tuesday, when she told reporters that she thought lawmakers were very close to an agreement to include aid for Flint in the energy legislation that is currently being debated by the Senate. 
She added on Wednesday that she thought there was a "solid agreement" on Tuesday.
Stabenow and Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) offered an amendment to the energy legislation that would give up to $600 million to combat the drinking water crisis. 
While she declined to go into the specifics of the agreement she and other lawmakers have been working on, Stabenow noted they are willing to "support a proposal that was less than half of what we originally requested." 
"Now we can't even get agreement on that because we're hearing procedural excuses, procedural excuses that are overcome every single day on this Senate floor when we want to," she added. 
Minority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidDems search for winning playbook Dems face hard choice for State of the Union response The Memo: Immigration battle tests activists’ muscle MORE (D-Nev.) also took to the Senate floor Wednesday, saying that he hopes "we can work something out" and that energy legislation is an "opportunity" for Congress to address the Flint crisis.
But Republicans have voiced skepticism of tying what they consider a local issue to what was considered a bipartisan energy bill.
"Adding additional debt to our tab, especially for something that's a local and state responsibility ... strikes me as a bad idea," Sen. John CornynJohn CornynMcCarthy: ‘No deadline on DACA’ NSA spying program overcomes key Senate hurdle Hoyer suggests Dems won't support spending bill without DACA fix MORE (R-Texas) told reporters on Wednesday, adding that Congress wouldn't "write a blank check."
He noted that Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiSessions torched by lawmakers for marijuana move Calif. Republican attacks Sessions over marijuana policy Trump's executive order on minerals will boost national defense MORE (R-Alaska), a co-sponsor of the energy bill, is continuing to talk with Stabenow to see if they can find a way to proceed.
Leadership is aiming to finish work on the legislation Thursday.
—This report was updated at 12:05 p.m.