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 Finance: Senators spar over Wall Street at SEC pick's hearing | New CBO score for ObamaCare bill | Agency signs off on Trump DC hotel lease Senators demand Pentagon action after nude photo scandal Senate Dems: We won't help pass additional health bills MORE (D-N.H.) and Rob PortmanRob PortmanOvernight Finance: Senators spar over Wall Street at SEC pick's hearing | New CBO score for ObamaCare bill | Agency signs off on Trump DC hotel lease GOP senators offer bill to require spending cuts with debt-limit hikes Vulnerable Senate Dem: Border tax concerning for agriculture MORE (R-Ohio), passed the committee by a 19-3 vote. Republican Sens. Mike LeeMike LeeGOP senators pitch alternatives after House pulls ObamaCare repeal bill How 'Big Pharma' stifles pharmaceutical innovation Overnight Finance: Senators spar over Wall Street at SEC pick's hearing | New CBO score for ObamaCare bill | Agency signs off on Trump DC hotel lease MORE (Utah), Tim ScottTim ScottA better economic policy Republicans rebuke King for racial remarks Conway on criticism: 'I'm not there to read about myself' MORE (S.C.) and Jeff FlakeJeff FlakeOvernight Regulation: Senate moves to strike Obama-era internet privacy rules Overnight Tech: Senate votes to eliminate Obama internet privacy rules | FCC chief wants to stay out of 'political debate' on fake news | Wikileaks reveals new CIA docs Senate votes to block internet privacy regulations 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 ReidThis obscure Senate rule could let VP Mike Pence fully repeal ObamaCare once and for all Sharron Angle to challenge GOP rep in Nevada Fox's Watters asks Trump whom he would fire: Baldwin, Schumer or Zucker MORE (D-Nev.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellThe Memo: Winners and losers from the battle over health care GOP senators pitch alternatives after House pulls ObamaCare repeal bill Under pressure, Dems hold back Gorsuch support MORE (R-Ky.) regarding amendments.

Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Ron WydenRon WydenThe Hill’s Whip List: Where Dems stand on Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Overnight Regulation: Senate moves to strike Obama-era internet privacy rules Overnight Tech: Senate votes to eliminate Obama internet privacy rules | FCC chief wants to stay out of 'political debate' on fake news | Wikileaks reveals new CIA docs 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 MurkowskiElle honors 10 at annual 'Women in Washington' event Five takeaways from Labor pick’s confirmation hearing ObamaCare repeal faces last obstacle before House vote 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.