A conference committee working to combine House and Senate energy bills likely won’t finish its work before November’s elections and will probably yield a stripped-down reform package, a top negotiator said on Wednesday.
House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) said he and other negotiators are aiming to craft a bill that could win President Obama’s signature this year.
He acknowledged that means, in some cases, cutting out provisions Republicans inserted into their version of the energy reform package this spring.
“We know it’s going to change,” Upton said. “It’s going to change; we’re open-minded; we don’t have any red lines in the sand. Clearly there are some things we think we can agree on.”
If members can get that deal, Upton said, it’s likely to come after November’s elections.
“Let’s face it, that will be hard to do, knowing that it took so long,” Upton said of passing a bill before the elections. “So it will be pretty hard to get done before the end of September, but we’ll see. I don’t know.”
The Senate voted on Tuesday to go to a conference committee with the House, a major step toward passing an energy bill for the first time since 2007.
Democrats, though, have objected to a host of conservative provisions inserted into a House version of the bill in April, such as a GOP package to relieve the California drought and a measure to bypass environmental regulations for energy projects on Native American land, among others.
The White House opposes the House bill, meaning an agreeable package will likely include fewer of those provisions. The centerpiece of a compromise bill could be an expansion of liquefied natural gas exports, a provision included in both the House and Senate bills.
Members of the conference committee — including Sens. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiCongress should reject H.R. 1619's dangerous anywhere, any place casino precedent Democratic frustration growing over stagnating voting rights bills Graham emerges as go-to ally for Biden's judicial picks MORE (R-Alaska) and Maria CantwellMaria Elaine CantwellReal relief from high gas prices GOP resistance to Biden FCC nominee could endanger board's Democratic majority Scott says he will block nominees until Biden officials testify on supply chain crisis MORE (D-Wash.) — said they are optimistic about getting a bill, even a pared down one, to President Obama this year.
“We’re not going to do a bill that’s going to get vetoed,” Upton said Wednesday. ”We’re going to get a bill or not.”