Energy-efficiency bill clears Senate panel

A bill viewed as a bellwether of the Senate’s appetite for passing energy-efficiency legislation breezed through the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on Wednesday.

The bill (S.761), co-sponsored by Sens. Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenTop Democrat calls Trump's Afghan drawdown 'the right policy decision' as others warn of 'mistake' Overnight Defense: How members of the Armed Services committees fared in Tuesday's elections | Military ballots among those uncounted in too-close-to-call presidential race | Ninth US service member killed by COVID-19 Biden wins New Hampshire MORE (D-N.H.) and Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanBiden says transition outreach from Trump administration has been 'sincere' The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump holds his last turkey pardon ceremony The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC - Trump OKs transition; Biden taps Treasury, State experience MORE (R-Ohio), passed the committee by a 19-3 vote. Republican Sens. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeMcConnell halts in-person Republican lunches amid COVID-19 surge Loeffler isolating after possible COVID-19 infection Rick Scott tests positive for coronavirus MORE (Utah), Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottDemocrats lead in diversity in new Congress despite GOP gains The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Capital One - Pfizer unveils detailed analysis of COVID-19 vaccine & next steps GOP senators congratulate Harris on Senate floor MORE (S.C.) and Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeBiden eyeing Cindy McCain for UK ambassador position: report Profiles in cowardice: Trump's Senate enablers McSally concedes Arizona Senate race MORE (Ariz.) opposed the measure.

But even the bipartisan endorsement for the bill might not be enough to get it to the floor. A similar version last year fell victim to a disagreement between Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidFeinstein departure from top post sets stage for Judiciary fight Whitehouse says Democratic caucus will decide future of Judiciary Committee Bottom line MORE (D-Nev.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellMcConnell halts in-person Republican lunches amid COVID-19 surge Biden and reproductive health rights Biden's Cabinet a battleground for future GOP White House hopefuls MORE (R-Ky.) regarding amendments.


Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenTwo more parting shots from Trump aimed squarely at disabled workers On The Money: Push for student loan forgiveness puts Biden in tight spot | Trump is wild card as shutdown fears grow | Mnuchin asks Fed to return 5 billion in unspent COVID emergency funds Grassley, Wyden criticize Treasury guidance concerning PPP loans MORE (D-Ore.) said he was determined to avoid the same fate this time around.

“We want to do what’s doable. As you know, it’s fairly easy to blow things up in the United States Senate, and it’s more challenging to thread the needle. A whole lot of senators this morning with differing philosophical views showed a lot of goodwill. That’s what we’re going to bring to Sen. Reid and Sen. McConnell,” Wyden told reporters after the mark up.

Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiBiden's Cabinet a battleground for future GOP White House hopefuls Trump administration denies permit for controversial Pebble Mine Trump transition order follows chorus of GOP criticism MORE (R-Alaska), the committee’s top Republican, said she and Wyden plan to ask Senate leaders to limit amendments — both in number and in scope.

Wyden predicted that lawmakers would resist pinning controversial amendments onto the bill because “people have had a belly-full of paralysis” and want to see legislation passed.

The legislation aims to encourage energy-efficiency upgrades at residential, commercial and industrial buildings. It would do so by authorizing voluntary standards for new building codes, a state-based private financing program for boosting efficiency and directing the federal government to employ energy-saving practices.


Shaheen and Portman removed some of the thornier issues from last session’s version — such as an authorization for a federal loan guarantee program — that prickled fiscal conservatives. They said doing so would help it get through the Senate.

The committee also approved four hydropower bills on Wednesday that would ease permitting for small projects.

Wyden said those bills would help “put points on the board in the fight against climate change,” and that he expects those to pass the full Senate.