Senators strike deal to move forward on sweeping energy bill

Senators strike deal to move forward on sweeping energy bill
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The Senate will vote this week on whether to enter formal negotiations with the House toward a compromise energy policy bill.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellRosenstein steps back into GOP crosshairs Biden to deliver remarks in Philadelphia Tuesday on nationwide protests Senate Republicans urge Trump to tone down rhetoric on protests MORE (R-Ky.) announced the plan for a conference vote Monday, after weeks of negotiations with Democrats.

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The Democrats had resisted going to conference, since the House’s bill is filled with Republican priorities that they say would weaken environmental rules, boost fossil fuels and garner a veto from President Obama.

“The Senate will have an opportunity to go to conference with the House to work toward an agreement on the Energy Policy Modernization Act. This reform bill which passed the Senate in April represents the first broad energy legislation to move through the Senate since the Bush administration,” McConnell said.

“Going to conference on this measure would put us one step closer to getting a bill and sending it to the president.”

A spokeswoman for Sen. 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 (Wash.), top Democrat on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said Senate leaders have agreed to restrict the negotiated bill and take out provisions that Obama would veto.

Thanks to that agreement, Cantwell is supporting the vote to go to conference, and will urge other Democrats to do the same, the spokeswoman said. That makes it very likely to reach the 60 votes needed to formally start the conference process.

The Senate passed its broad, bipartisan energy bill in April. The bill would modernize numerous energy policies, with an eye toward improving the electric grid, encouraging energy efficiency, easing exports of natural gas and other priorities.

The House’s bill, passed last year, was far more partisan, with few Democrats supporting it. The House then voted to go to conference on the energy bills, but it attached numerous other Republican pieces of legislation with little Democratic support, including a drought relief bill for California.

If the House and Senate negotiators reach a compromise, the final bill would still have to pass both chambers of Congress and be signed by Obama.