Week ahead: Energy bill, Flint aid -- take two

Senators are growing increasingly bullish on the prospects of returning to a major energy reform bill and a Flint, Mich., aid package.

Lawmakers negotiating a deal to bring the two items back to the Senate floor say they're trying to resolve final disputes over the packages in hopes of calling them both up for votes in the coming week.

"We need to get it all ironed out, but the thing that I find encouraging every day, and one of the reasons I have not lost my optimism, is because everybody is continuing to talk, continuing to work through things, and as long as all that is happening, you can achieve a desired result," Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiThe siren of Baton Rouge Interior plan to use drilling funds for new projects met with skepticism The 14 GOP senators who voted against Trump’s immigration framework MORE (R-Alaska), chairwoman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said Thursday.

Murkowski said she expects the energy bill and Flint aid to come back to the floor after senators finish up work on a measure to address opioid abuse early in the week. Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) said the Flint legislation is "hopefully" set to hit the floor after opioid bill is done.

"That's still a work in progress," he said this week. "We're down to very few [complaints]. I don't recall the number, but very few, not many at all."

"We're ready to go, we're ready to vote," Sen. Debbie StabenowDeborah (Debbie) Ann Stabenow10 Senate Democrats are up for reelection in Trump country At least Alzheimer’s research is bringing Washington together Senate Dems block crackdown on sanctuary cities MORE (D-Mich.) added. "We have a great bipartisan proposal. We have bipartisan support. Now it's just a matter of getting the energy bill squared away."

Lawmakers agreed on a $250 million package to upgrade infrastructure for communities across the country struggling with contaminated water, including Flint. The deal opened the door for the Senate to resume considering the energy bill, which faltered last month amid negotiations over Flint, where residents are suffering from a severe lead contamination.

But work both bills has since stalled, with several Republicans placing holds on the legislation. Republican Sens. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeThe 14 GOP senators who voted against Trump’s immigration framework Prison sentencing bill advances over Sessions objections Grassley ‘incensed’ by Sessions criticism of proposed sentencing reform legislation MORE (Utah) and David VitterDavid Bruce VitterTrump nominates wife of ex-Louisiana senator to be federal judge Where is due process in all the sexual harassment allegations? Not the Senate's job to second-guess Alabama voters MORE (La.) are both blocking the water agreement, two Senate aides told The Hill this week.

Senators can use holds to stall legislation or a nomination without having to publicly announce their opposition. Lee is reportedly upset over funding levels and Senate procedure and believes the drinking water crisis is a local issue. Vitter said last week he was "quite hopeful" the Senate would soon be able to move forward on the matter.

"There is scheduled to be some people who won't support the overall bill, understand that," Murkowski said. "What we want to try to do is get them to the place where everybody else can express their views and opinions on the overall bill. That's what we're doing, that's what we've been working on."

Off the floor, senators are scheduled to continue examining President Obama's 2017 budget request.

U.S. Forest Service Chief Thomas Tidwell is scheduled to testify on his agency's budget proposal before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on Tuesday. 

The following day, the Environment and Public Works Committee plans to hold a hearing on "EPA regulatory actions and the role of states as co-regulators."

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is scheduled to visit Washington for a meeting with President Obama and a state dinner at the White House. Among other issues, the visit will reportedly yield a U.S.-Canada climate change strategy, though American officials have yet to detail what that might look like. 



-Senate approves pipeline safety bill: http://bit.ly/21cbQUp

-Rubio defends Michigan GOP governor on Flint: http://bit.ly/1UFD1XV

-GOP senators holding up Flint aid deal: http://bit.ly/1TZgTXN

-Chief justice rejects plea to block air pollution rule: http://bit.ly/1TwnMSa

-Indicted former gas exec dies in car crash: http://bit.ly/1LFgit8