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Senate committee approves energy, veterans spending bills

The Senate Appropriations Committee voted Thursday to pass a pair of spending bills covering the federal government’s energy, water, military construction and veterans’ affairs programs.

The votes line up the bills for consideration on the Senate floor, which Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTop aide: Biden expected to visit Georgia in push to boost Ossoff, Warnock Democrats brush off calls for Biden to play hardball on Cabinet picks Richmond says GOP 'reluctant to stand up and tell the emperor he wears no clothes' MORE (R-Ky.) said he has planned for next week.

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The bills had bipartisan support, with senators agreeing to hold off on proposing any controversial amendments until it reaches the Senate floor.

The energy and water bill passed nearly unanimously, and the military construction and veterans’ affairs bill passed unanimously.

The energy and water legislation provides $37.5 billion for the Department of Energy and the Army Corps of Engineers. It’s a slight increase over last year, though the defense-related programs received all of the increases, while non-defense spending decreased.

“The bill we’ve negotiated invests in waterways; puts us one step closer to doubling our basic energy research; helps to resolve the nuclear waste stalemate; cleans up hazardous materials at Cold War sites, and maintains our nuclear weapons stockpile,” said Sen. Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderDemocrats gear up for last oversight showdown with Trump Trump nominee's long road to Fed may be dead end GOP lawmaker patience runs thin with Trump tactics MORE (R-Tenn.), chairman of the subcommittee that oversees the bill and its main sponsor.

Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinVoting machine company denies Trump claims about software issues Top Latino group calls for Padilla as Harris's Senate replacement Pressure grows on California governor to name Harris replacement MORE (Calif.), the top Democrat on that panel, said she supported it, though the process involved numerous trade-offs.

“I believe this is a good bill. It’s a fair bill. It contains trade-offs and hard choices, but it’s a just bill,” she said. “I don’t agree with everything in this bill, but I support it.”

Senators brought up numerous amendments but agreed to withdraw all of them and save them for the floor. Those measures would have provided funding for dredging and levee repair in Louisiana, defunded the Obama administration’s Clean Water Rule, put in additional funding for wind energy research, ordered a study on oil exports, increased clean energy research funding and put more money into construction for small harbors.

The military construction and veterans’ bill was similarly bipartisan.

“The bill provides $7.9 billion for 210 critical defense construction projects, at a cost of $500 million above the request. And that was to ensure our military is ready to fight and win when necessary,” said Sen. Mark KirkMark Steven KirkSenate majority battle snags Biden Cabinet hopefuls The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Senate makes SCOTUS nominee Barrett a proxy for divisive 2020 Senate Republicans scramble to put Trump at arm's length MORE (R-Ill.), the sponsor and subcommittee chairman.

“For Veterans’ Affairs and related agencies, the bill provides $75.1 billion to protect our veterans,” he said. “This is record funding for the VA. The budget is up $3.4 billion to reflect increased healthcare costs.”

The panel also approved an amendment to that bill regarding an adoption program for certain veterans.