Senators prepare amendments for energy bill free-for-all

Senators prepare amendments for energy bill free-for-all
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Senators of both parties are planning to bring their various priorities to the Senate floor next week as amendments to the wide-ranging energy bill the chamber will debate.

Lawmakers want to see the Senate vote on measures that would help out the coal industry, improve energy efficiency or make statements on climate change.

But many of the provisions senators are preparing could erode the wide, bipartisan support enjoyed by the bill crafted by Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairwoman Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiSenators press administration on mental health parity Overnight Energy: Watchdogs unveil findings on EPA, Interior controversies | GAO says EPA violated law with soundproof booth | IG says Zinke could have avoided charter flight | GOP chair probes Pruitt's four email addresses GOP fractures over push to protect Russia probe MORE (R-Alaska) and Sen. Maria Cantwell (Wash.), the top Democrat.

“It'll be open for amendment, and since it came out of committee 18-4, I hope we’ll be able to replicate what we did on frequent occasions last year with the rewrite of No Child Left Behind, the highway bill and other matters,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGOP senator: Democratic opposition to Pompeo 'driven 100 percent by politics' Pompeo lacks votes for positive vote on panel GOP poised to advance rules change to speed up Trump nominees MORE (R-Ky.) said Wednesday.

Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) has used previous open amendment processes, including the one last year for the Keystone XL oil pipeline, to sponsor amendments asking the entire Senate to vote on whether climate change is real.

Schatz said he wanted to “keep the other side on their toes,” so he declined to be specific about what form an amendment could take.

“We’ve come to enjoy these opportunities, and I think we’ll make more progress next week,” he said.

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) was happy that the Energy Committee included in its bill most provisions of her energy efficiency legislation that she has pushed for years with Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio).

But the bill didn’t include a provision aimed at making energy efficient homes more affordable, so Shaheen said that might come up as an amendment.

Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) said the energy bill could include a vote on whether to reverse President Obama’s three-year moratorium on new coal leasing on public land.

“In a sense, that is going to just be sending pink slips to thousands of people who earn their living and livelihood with coal,” Barrasso said.

“This energy bill will be an opportunity to speak out with amendments specifically related to the president’s most recent actions.”

Sen. Cory GardnerCory Scott GardnerPoll: Almost two-thirds of Texas voters support legal recreational marijuana House, Senate GOP compete for cash Overnight Cybersecurity: Senators want info on 'stingray' surveillance in DC | Bills to secure energy infrastructure advance | GOP lawmaker offers cyber deterrence bill MORE (R-Colo.) wants to bring up some “nuts and bolts” amendments that didn’t make it into the original bill and are unlikely to be controversial, he said, while Sen. Martin HeinrichMartin Trevor HeinrichDem senators unveil expanded public option for health insurance Senators introduced revised version of election cyber bill Senate Intel releases summary of election security report MORE (D-N.M.) is likely to sponsor an amendment to improve permitting for renewable energy on public land.

Murkowski took provisions on hydropower permitting out of the bill last year, but she’s eyeing the amendment process to get them in.

“I kind of liked my bill,” she said.