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Senators look to reinstate defense biofuels spending


Sens. James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeDivided Congress to clash over Space Force, nuclear arsenal Midterms poised to shake up US-Saudi defense ties Graham: 'Game changer' if Saudis behind journalist's disappearance MORE (R-Okla.) and John McCainJohn Sidney McCainSinema invokes McCain in Senate acceptance speech Overnight Health Care — Presented by The Partnership for Safe Medicines — Medicaid expansion gets extra boost from governors' races | Utah's expansion to begin April 1 | GOP lawmaker blames McCain for Dems winning House Overnight Defense — Presented by Raytheon — Trump's Armistice Day trip marked by controversy | US ends aerial refueling to Saudi coalition in Yemen | Analysts identify undeclared North Korean missile bases MORE (R-Ariz.) got Democratic support in the Armed Services Committee to tack amendments onto the spending bill that handcuff the Navy’s ability to use biofuels. Republicans like Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsDems vow swift action on gun reform next year Collins reiterates call for legislation to protect Mueller investigation GOP nerves on edge after Sinema takes lead over McSally MORE (R-Maine) have voiced support for biofuels on the grounds of energy independence.

Possible courses of actions in the Senate to reinstate biofuels include explicitly letting the Navy purchase and develop biofuels for ships and aircraft and voting to remove the McCain and Inhofe amendments.

The McCain and Inhofe provisions would block spending on fuels that cost more than traditional fuel and stop funding bio-refineries for boosting production of experimental fuels.

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. Carl LevinCarl Milton LevinCongress must use bipartisan oversight as the gold standard National security leaders: Trump's Iran strategy could spark war Overnight Defense: McCain honored in Capitol ceremony | Mattis extends border deployment | Trump to embark on four-country trip after midterms MORE said Tuesday he backed efforts to put the biofuels measures back into the bill on the Senate floor.

“I’m all for it,” Levin told reporters.

At issue is a biofuels testing program demonstrated by the “Great Green Fleet” aircraft carrier strike group. The Navy says it needs the program to find alternative fuels that it claims will promote energy security and safeguard it from oil price shocks.

But opponents believe biofuels cost too much, especially when the Defense Department is staring down sequestration, which threatens to cut its budget by $492 billion over 10 years.