Energy-efficiency bill clears Senate panel

A bill viewed as a bellwether of the Senate’s appetite for passing energy-efficiency legislation breezed through the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on Wednesday.

The bill (S.761), co-sponsored by Sens. Jeanne Shaheen Jeanne ShaheenOvernight Defense: Trump gets briefing at Pentagon on ISIS, Afghanistan | Senate panel approves five defense picks | Senators want Syria study in defense bill Gore wishes Mikulski a happy birthday at 'Inconvenient Sequel' premiere Senators ask for Syria policy study in defense bill MORE (D-N.H.) and Rob PortmanRob PortmanRegulatory experts push Senate leaders for regulatory reform Conservative group to give GOP healthcare holdouts ‘Freedom Traitors Award’ Source: Senate leaders to offer 0 billion to win over moderates MORE (R-Ohio), passed the committee by a 19-3 vote. Republican Sens. Mike LeeMike LeeCruz offers bill to weaken labor board's power Overnight Finance: GOP offers measure to repeal arbitration rule | Feds fine Exxon M for Russian sanctions violations | Senate panel sticks with 2017 funding levels for budget | Trump tax nominee advances | Trump unveils first reg agenda The Memo: Trump tries to bend Congress to his will MORE (Utah), Tim ScottTim ScottTrump squeezes 'no' vote Heller at healthcare lunch The Hill's 12:30 Report Guess who’s stumping for states' rights? MORE (S.C.) and Jeff FlakeJeff FlakeArizona senator: McCain still focused on healthcare legislation Lawmakers send McCain well wishes after cancer diagnosis Why Trump is the Democratic Party's best friend right now MORE (Ariz.) opposed the measure.

But even the bipartisan endorsement for the bill might not be enough to get it to the floor. A similar version last year fell victim to a disagreement between Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidConservative Senate candidate calls on GOP to end filibuster Ex-Reid aide: McConnell's 'original sin' was casting ObamaCare as 'partisan, socialist takeover' GOP faces growing demographic nightmare in West MORE (D-Nev.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellOvernight Regulation: Trump administration reveals first regulatory agenda | GOP lawmakers introduce measures to repeal arbitration rule | Exxon gets M fine for sanctions violation Overnight Healthcare: CBO predicts 22M would lose coverage under Senate ObamaCare replacement OPINION | GOP healthcare attack is a vendetta against President Obama MORE (R-Ky.) regarding amendments.

Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Ron WydenRon WydenTrump and GOP wise to keep tax reform and infrastructure separate Dem senator questions Justice Department on warrantless surveillance FCC says it cannot provide more proof of claimed cyberattack MORE (D-Ore.) said he was determined to avoid the same fate this time around.

“We want to do what’s doable. As you know, it’s fairly easy to blow things up in the United States Senate, and it’s more challenging to thread the needle. A whole lot of senators this morning with differing philosophical views showed a lot of goodwill. That’s what we’re going to bring to Sen. Reid and Sen. McConnell,” Wyden told reporters after the mark up.

Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa MurkowskiOPINION | GOP healthcare attack is a vendetta against President Obama Conservative group to give GOP healthcare holdouts ‘Freedom Traitors Award’ Source: Senate leaders to offer 0 billion to win over moderates MORE (R-Alaska), the committee’s top Republican, said she and Wyden plan to ask Senate leaders to limit amendments — both in number and in scope.

Wyden predicted that lawmakers would resist pinning controversial amendments onto the bill because “people have had a belly-full of paralysis” and want to see legislation passed.

The legislation aims to encourage energy-efficiency upgrades at residential, commercial and industrial buildings. It would do so by authorizing voluntary standards for new building codes, a state-based private financing program for boosting efficiency and directing the federal government to employ energy-saving practices.

Shaheen and Portman removed some of the thornier issues from last session’s version — such as an authorization for a federal loan guarantee program — that prickled fiscal conservatives. They said doing so would help it get through the Senate.

The committee also approved four hydropower bills on Wednesday that would ease permitting for small projects.

Wyden said those bills would help “put points on the board in the fight against climate change,” and that he expects those to pass the full Senate.