Democrats focus on two amendments for Senate energy bill

Democrats focus on two amendments for Senate energy bill
© Getty

Senate Democrats appear to be narrowing their efforts to battle climate change through a fast-moving energy bill, focusing on two amendments that have proven controversial in the upper chamber.

A Senate aide told The Hill on Friday that Democrats plan to push for amendments on energy efficiency and reducing the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), saying in an email that the measures “have teeth and would address climate change in a significant way.”

Democrats previously vowed to also go to bat for clean energy tax credits as part of the bill from Sens. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiSenate GOP aims to confirm Trump court pick by Oct. 29: report Senate GOP sees early Supreme Court vote as political booster shot Pence defends Trump's 'obligation' to nominate new Supreme Court justice MORE (R-Alaska) and Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinThe Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Trump, GOP allies prepare for SCOTUS nomination this week Trump meets with potential Supreme Court pick Amy Coney Barrett at White House Names to watch as Trump picks Ginsburg replacement on Supreme Court MORE (D-W.Va.), which is aimed at spurring research and development into renewable energy as well as technology to ease pollution from fossil fuels.


On Thursday, Murkowski threw her support behind 18 provisions from senators across the ideological spectrum, saying she would package them as a modified substitute amendment.

“Our bill now addresses priorities from nearly 70 members of the Senate. We have made it even better than it was, and now we need to move on to our final steps,” she said on the Senate floor. 

The list, however, doesn't include several provisions that Democrats — and some Republicans — have been fighting to add in.

A spokesperson for Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenGOP set to release controversial Biden report Democrats fear Russia interference could spoil bid to retake Senate GOP senator blocks Schumer resolution aimed at Biden probe as tensions run high MORE (D-Ore.), who proposed an amendment aiming to expand tax incentives for electric vehicles and renewable energy, said the senator’s provision won’t be included in the legislation since it wasn’t on Murkowski’s list. 

“It won’t be included in this package given that it was not one of the 18 amendments added,” the official told The Hill. “Senator Wyden will continue to look for opportunities to move these energy tax policies.”


The two amendments that Democrats will continue pushing were also not on the list.

One is a building codes amendment from Sens. Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenSenate Democrats introduce bill to sanction Russians over Taliban bounties Trump-backed candidate wins NH GOP Senate primary to take on Shaheen Democratic senator urges Trump to respond to Russian aggression MORE (D-N.H.) and Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanMcConnell locks down key GOP votes in Supreme Court fight Romney undecided on authorizing subpoenas for GOP Obama-era probes Congress needs to prioritize government digital service delivery MORE (R-Ohio) that would try to make new homes more energy efficient, though the codes are voluntary and at states’ discretion.

The HFCs provision, from Sens. Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperDemocrat asks for probe of EPA's use of politically appointed lawyers Overnight Energy: Study links coronavirus mortality to air pollution exposure | Low-income, minority households pay more for utilities: report OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Democrats push resolution to battle climate change, sluggish economy and racial injustice | Senators reach compromise on greenhouse gas amendment stalling energy bill | Trump courts Florida voters with offshore drilling moratorium MORE (D-Del.) and John KennedyJohn Neely KennedyMORE (R-La.), would aim to lessen the use of the heat-trapping chemicals in refrigerators and air conditioners and is becoming a major sticking point in the energy bill negotiations.

Kennedy will continue to push for a vote on the measure, an official told The Hill on Friday.

The senator previously said that he would hold up the entire bill to try to include his proposal, which has been met with opposition from some Republicans and the White House, who say language should be included to prevent states from setting their own stricter standards.

Sen. John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoGOP senator attacks Biden: 'I'm not sure what he recalls' Oil and gas is a partner — not an adversary — in meeting our economic and environmental goals Murkowski: Supreme Court nominee should not be taken up before election MORE (R-Wyo.), who is among those voicing concerns with the proposal, told The Hill on Thursday that he is working with Kennedy and Carper on changes to their amendment.

The Murkowski-Manchin bill, which was introduced last week, would promote research in renewables such as geothermal and wave technology, as well as nuclear energy. It also contains controversial provision that could fast-track mining of minerals needed for the batteries to support long-term use of wind and solar.

Rebecca Beitsch contributed.