Senators reveal slimmer energy-efficiency bill with eye toward courting GOP

The bill has a broad base of support off Capitol Hill. On hand to endorse the legislation were the chiefs of the National Association of Manufacturers, Alliance to Save Energy and National Electrical Manufacturers Association, as well as staff from the Natural Resources Defense Council.

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Getting backing from the GOP-controlled House might be trickier.

The senators have tapped Rep. David McKinley (R-W.Va.), a conservative member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, to take the lead on the House version. The West Virginia Republican submitted the House bill on Thursday with Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) as a co-sponsor, McKinley's office told The Hill.

Shaheen said she expects the House legislation to be similar to the Senate model.

The decision to remove some items from the latest round of Shaheen-Portman, as it’s known, was designed to attract support from House GOP lawmakers.

“One of the things we tried to do was to respond to some of the concerns we heard the last session of Congress,” Shaheen said.

Missing from the current iteration is an expansion of a federal loan guarantee program for energy efficiency, as well as a state revolving grant program. Both of those efforts carried a $400 million annual authorization.

Shaheen said the absence of those provisions wouldn’t diminish the legislation’s impact, noting the bill includes a new state-based financing program.

On top of spending issues, conservatives last year objected to more stringent efficiency standards in new building codes called for in the bill.

But Shaheen said the codes were misconstrued. She maintained they were voluntary, and they still were in the bill reintroduced Thursday.

Portman added that there “are no mandates in the bill.”

Still, some Republicans — especially those in the House — would likely object to even voluntary standards out of fear that they could one day become mandatory.

It does, however, include several measures that will please Republicans — chiefly, a requirement that the federal government adopt energy-saving practices.

— This story was updated at 12:26 p.m.