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 StabenowCongress: Support legislation to defend Medicare home health  Dems want climate change, tax hikes in infrastructure deal Critics accuse EPA of weakening pollution rule for Pentagon MORE (D-Mich.), who is helping to lead the charge on the aid package, said this week that Sen. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeOn The Money: Senate passes disaster aid bill after deal with Trump | Trump to offer B aid package for farmers | House votes to boost retirement savings | Study says new tariffs to double costs for consumers Senate passes disaster aid bill after deal with Trump Hillicon Valley: Google delays cutting off Huawei | GOP senators split over breaking up big tech | Report finds DNC lagging behind RNC on cybersecurity 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 NelsonRepublicans amp up attacks on Tlaib's Holocaust comments The muscle for digital payment Rubio says hackers penetrated Florida elections systems 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 MurkowskiMurkowski celebrates birthday with electric scooter ride Overnight Energy: Park Service plans to pay full-time staff through entrance fees | Oil companies join blitz for carbon tax | Interior chief takes heat for saying he hasn't 'lost sleep' over climate change Democrats grill Trump Interior chief for saying he hasn't 'lost sleep' over climate change 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 McConnellThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump orders more troops to Mideast amid Iran tensions What if 2020 election is disputed? Immigration bills move forward amid political upheaval 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 CantwellData privacy: Consumers want it, businesses need it — it's time our government delivers it Don't revive logging in national forests Top Finance Dem offers bill to help those repaying student loans save for retirement 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