Flint, energy bill talks stall in Senate

Flint, energy bill talks stall in Senate
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Lawmakers are expressing frustration as talks over an aid package for Flint, Mich., and a broad energy reform bill stall in the Senate.

Sen. Debbie StabenowDeborah (Debbie) Ann StabenowRepublican challenger to Gary Peters in Michigan raises over million USDA nixes release of multiple reports over researcher exodus Schumer throws support behind Pelosi impeachment inquiry MORE (D-Mich.), who is helping to lead the charge on the aid package, said this week that Sen. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeHillicon Valley: FCC approves T-Mobile-Sprint merger | Dems wrangle over breaking up Big Tech at debate | Critics pounce as Facebook's Libra stumbles | Zuckerberg to be interviewed by Fox News | Twitter details rules for political figures' tweets Republican lawmaker proposes transferring drone authority to local governments A decade of policymaking failures is to blame for new Syria crisis MORE (R-Utah) has so far refused to lift his hold on the measure despite a budget office report showing it would not add to the federal deficit.

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Lee’s office said it sent Stabenow a new offer on the deal Monday but wouldn’t give specifics.

“Staff has been talking this afternoon, but there’s no good reason for this,” Stabenow said Tuesday.

“It’s bipartisan, completely paid-for, includes deficit reduction. For me, this is about helping 9,000 children in Flint who have lead poisoning, as well as the entire community, and I don’t understand.”

If Lee lifts his hold on the $250 million package to pay for water infrastructure repairs in Flint and elsewhere, senators will have cleared a major hurdle to resuming consideration of an energy reform bill. Lawmakers pulled the measure from the floor in February after Democrats blocked the legislation, which didn’t address the water crisis in Flint.

But Lee’s hold is not the only one on the package. Sen. Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonBottom Line Bottom Line Media and candidates should be ashamed that they don't talk about obesity MORE (D-Fla.) wants to block the bill unless Republicans drop plans to vote on an amendment to expand revenue sharing for offshore oil drilling. Nelson is worried the energy bill would encourage drilling off the coast of Florida.

Asked Wednesday if he still has a hold on the legislation, Nelson smiled and said, “Of course I do."

Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiOvernight Energy: Trump administration issues plan to reverse limits on logging in Tongass National Forest| Democrats inch closer to issuing subpoenas for Interior, EPA records| Trump's plan to boost ethanol miffs corn groups and the fossil fuel industry Trump administration issues plan to reverse limits on logging in Tongass National Forest Democrats can lose Trump impeachment battle and still win electoral war MORE (R-Alaska), chairwoman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee and lead sponsor of the reform bill, said Wednesday she hopes to resolve the issues soon, before the Senate moves into the 2017 appropriations process.

“There is a schedule that [Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellPatient advocates launch drug pricing ad campaign Overnight Defense — Presented by Boeing — House passes resolution rebuking Trump over Syria | Sparks fly at White House meeting on Syria | Dems say Trump called Pelosi a 'third-rate politician' | Trump, Graham trade jabs War of words at the White House MORE, R-Ky.] would like to keep, and I concur with him,” she said. “But if we’ve got a consent agreement that allows for a very limited time and we can just move right through [the energy bill], then we can cut and paste, if you will. And I’d like to do that.”

Murkowski’s Democratic counterpart, Sen. Maria CantwellMaria Elaine CantwellOvernight Energy: Trump administration issues plan to reverse limits on logging in Tongass National Forest| Democrats inch closer to issuing subpoenas for Interior, EPA records| Trump's plan to boost ethanol miffs corn groups and the fossil fuel industry Trump administration issues plan to reverse limits on logging in Tongass National Forest Zuckerberg defends meetings with conservative politicians, pundits MORE (Wash.), said the bill could be the next one to come to the floor, though she acknowledged that she and others have been saying that for weeks.

“Yeah, I know,” she said. “It’s a shame, there’s so much important energy policy. Hopefully, our colleagues that are holding it up will stop doing that.”

—Cory Bennett contributed