Week ahead: Senate to take up energy reform, spending bills

The Senate is planning to take up and vote on its previously stalled energy reform legislation and appropriations bill for energy and water programs.

The energy reform bill is the result of nearly a year and a half of work by Sens. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Trump administration gives renewables more time to take advantage of tax credits | House Republicans introduce bill to speed mining projects for critical minerals | Watchdog faults EPA communications in contamination of NC river Trump administration gives renewables more time to take advantage of tax credits GOP senators urge Trump not to restrict guest worker visas MORE (R-Alaska) and Maria CantwellMaria Elaine CantwellDemocratic unity starts to crack in coronavirus liability reform fight Trump nominee for Consumer Product Safety Commission involved in CDC guidance shelving: AP Senate votes to reauthorize intel programs with added legal protections MORE (D-Wash.). It's a bipartisan bill that mostly avoids hot-button issues but aims to modernize policy touching the electrical grid, renewables, energy efficiency, natural gas exports and more.

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Days ago, the outlook seemed grim for the bill. But Democrats agreed to drop their demand to attach a $220 million aid package for the water crisis in Flint, Mich., allowing the bill to move forward.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Trump tweets as tensions escalate across US This week: Senate reconvenes as protests roil nation amid pandemic For city parks: Pass the Great American Outdoors Act now MORE (R-Ky.) set up a series of amendments to the bill for votes as soon as Tuesday, after which time the Senate can vote on the legislation as a whole.

Senators are also planning to consider the appropriations bill for the Department of Energy and water development programs. The $37.5 billion bill, which has bipartisan support so far, passed the Appropriations Committee with nearly unanimous support.

It directs new money to the Energy Department's defense and energy research programs, as well as the Army Corps of Engineers.

Senators have withheld potential amendments during the subcommittee and committee markups, but they're likely to bring them up on the floor and seek votes.

The appropriations process is going to be keeping others on Capitol Hill busy as well.

The House Appropriations Committee will meet Tuesday to vote on that chamber's energy and water bill, along with other legislation. The subcommittee with jurisdiction passed it the same day as the Senate's, but the upper chamber moved faster.

The House's bill is far more controversial and takes direct aim at President Obama's environmental priorities. It would take significant funding away from clean energy research and development and direct it toward fossil fuels, which the GOP says is a better use of money, since those are the dominant fuels in the United States.

The bill also seeks to stop the Clean Water Rule, among other provisions.

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee is getting in on the appropriations action with a Tuesday hearing examining the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) 2017 budget request.

The Environment Committee's clean air and nuclear safety subpanel will meet Thursday for a hearing on the Nuclear Energy Innovation and Modernization Act, a bipartisan bill to change how the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) works regarding its fee structure and licenses for advanced reactors.

The senators will hear from representatives of the NRC and various stakeholders from business and research organizations.

The Senate Energy Committee is holding a hearing Tuesday on the impact of low prices on oil and natural gas development, and its public lands subcommittee will meet Thursday to discuss nine bills in its jurisdiction.

On the other side of Capitol Hill, the House Oversight Subcommittee on the Interior will have a two-part hearing over two days on what lawmakers see as barriers to taking species off the endangered list.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee is bringing in Mathy Stanislaus, head of the EPA's land office, for a hearing Thursday on the brownfields program, which provides grants and help for communities to remediate and reuse polluted lands.

Two of its subcommittees will hear from NRC representatives Wednesday about that agency’s budget request for fiscal 2017.

The week wraps up Friday with Earth Day, which is also the day on which numerous countries plan to send representatives to United Nations headquarters to sign last year's Paris climate change agreement, the first day it's available to sign.

Secretary of State John KerryJohn Forbes KerryThe continuous whipsawing of climate change policy Budowsky: United Democrats and Biden's New Deal Overnight Energy: 600K clean energy jobs lost during pandemic, report finds | Democrats target diseases spread by wildlife | Energy Dept. to buy 1M barrels of oil MORE will be representing the Obama administration at the event. Once 55 countries sign it, representing 55 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, the agreement takes effect.

 

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