Senate panel chair expects compromise energy bill next year

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The Senate Energy Committee chair expects to be able to reconcile her chamber’s bipartisan energy reform bill with a version that passed the House on a nearly party-line vote Thursday.

Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa MurkowskiSenators seek state revenue sharing for offshore drilling Senate panel approves 0M for international climate fund GOP senator praises Supreme Court's abortion ruling MORE (R-Alaska) on Thursday said her energy policy overhaul package should hit the Senate floor in the new year. The bill won a big bipartisan vote in the Energy and Natural Resources Committee this summer, and she expects to be able to craft a similar compromise with House lawmakers later in 2016.

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“Obviously we like the Senate bill, we think that has been a good coming together on a lot of these important issues as we modernize our energy policies and strategies,” Murkowski said at an event held by The Hill and sponsored by ABB, Inc. on Thursday.

“I like the Senate bill. I think the House has been working hard and we appreciate that, but absolutely there is room to meld the two together when we get to that point in time.”

Murkowski negotiated her energy reform bill with Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), the ranking Democrat on her committee. The Energy Committee approved the legislation on an 18-4 vote in July.

The package includes provisions to speed up liquefied natural gas exports, indefinitely authorize the federal government’s main conservation fund, reform or remove outdated programs and prepare the electric grid for modern needs, among other things.

Rep. Fred Upton’s (R-Mich.) reform bill, which has similar goals but different language, passed the House on a 249-174 vote Thursday, but only nine Democrats voted for it. The White House also threatened a veto over several provisions within it.

Murkowski said she didn’t look to fill the Senate bill with many party-line priorities, such as expanding energy development in the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve. She said she hopes future negotiations on energy policy look like those on education, which yielded a bipartisan overhaul bill that lawmakers hope to send to President Obama next week.   

“This bill is not Lisa Murkowski’s perfect bill,” she said. “But I knew there were certain things that were not going to pass muster in that open process.”

Sen. Martin HeinrichMartin HeinrichSenate Republicans may defy NRA on guns Senators roll out bipartisan gun proposal Senators seek wilderness protection in NM MORE (D-N.M.), a member of the energy panel, concurred and said he expects to see a bill land on Obama’s desk next year.

“It’s not an easy time to put together energy legislation,” he said at The Hill's event. “I wouldn’t describe the legislation as sweeping. It has a lot of parts to it, but I think it struck the right balance given where we are today.”