Shaheen: No vote on energy efficiency bill before August recess

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) said Tuesday that there would not be a final Senate vote this week on the energy efficiency bill she drafted, delaying the measure until after the August recess.

In mid-July, Shaheen told reporters that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) informed her the efficiency bill, co-sponsored by Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), would hit the floor the last week before recess.

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The bill’s sponsors, though, have been unable to broker a deal ahead of time to prevent their colleagues from pushing controversial amendments.

The underlying bill would authorize an array of provisions to encourage energy conservation by homeowners, manufacturers, businesses and the federal government.

It has broad bipartisan support, as it passed out of committee with a 19-3 vote and picked up a range of endorsements from industry and environmental groups.

But contentious amendments derailed similar legislation last session, as Reid proved reluctant to offer votes on controversial issues, including the Keystone XL pipeline and greenhouse gas emissions rules.

Some lawmakers expressed hope an eleventh hour breakthrough was forthcoming to give the Senate its first chance to pass substantive energy legislation since 2007.

Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said “discussions are ongoing,” and that the bill’s backers are “continuing to talk to senators.”

Portman said he was “hopeful” that the bill would get to the floor before the August break.

“It depends, obviously, how we work through these other issues. But we’re hoping to get it up this week,” he told reporters.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee’s top Republican and a supporter of the legislation, said she was frustrated with the delay.

“I’d like to think that it’s going to happen, but we don’t have very much daylight between now and the time we close out,” she told reporters.

“I know your question: ‘Why is it so difficult to get this done?’ Maybe because there’s not enough in it that provides enough leverage,” Murkowski added.

Ben Geman contributed