House chairman: Energy bill unlikely before election

House chairman: Energy bill unlikely before election
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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. 

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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 MurkowskiGOP Sen. Collins says she'll back resolution to block Trump's emergency declaration The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump escalates fight with NY Times The 10 GOP senators who may break with Trump on emergency MORE (R-Alaska) and Maria CantwellMaria Elaine CantwellSenate votes to extend key funding mechanism for parks White House poised to take action on AI, 5G Overnight Energy: States press Trump on pollution rules | EPA puts climate skeptic on science board | Senate tees up vote on federal lands bill 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.”