Senate energy bill negotiations could be delayed until after recess

Senate energy bill negotiations could be delayed until after recess
© Camille Fine

Sen. Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperHillicon Valley: Facebook to label 'newsworthy' posts that violate policies | Unilever to pull ads from Twitter, Facebook, Instagram | FEC commissioner steps down Senate Democrats push federal agencies to combat coronavirus scams and robocalls The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Rep. Mark Takano says Congress must extend worker benefits expiring in July; WHO reports record spike in global cases MORE (D-Del.) said Wednesday that negotiations on sweeping and bipartisan energy legislation will cool down over next week’s recess amid disputes over a potential amendment to the legislation. 

A proposal introduced by Carper and Sen. John KennedyJohn Neely KennedyMORE (R-La.) to phase down the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) has held up negotiations on the energy package put forth by Sens. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiSixth GOP senator unlikely to attend Republican convention Koch-backed group urges Senate to oppose 'bailouts' of states in new ads The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Trump backs another T stimulus, urges governors to reopen schools MORE (R-Alaska) and Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinKoch-backed group urges Senate to oppose 'bailouts' of states in new ads George Floyd and the upcoming Texas Democratic Senate runoff Energy companies cancel Atlantic Coast Pipeline MORE (D-W.Va.).

“Sen Kennedy's advice was ‘Why don't we just all go home to our home states and let people calm down and come back,’” Carper told The Hill. “And I think there's actually some wisdom in that.” 

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Opponents of the measure to reduce the use of the heat-trapping chemical have pushed for the addition of language that would prevent states from adding additional regulations on top of the federal rule. 

A Senate aide told reporters that Carper and Kennedy have offered a compromise that would preempt states from putting their own laws in place for two years. 

A spokesman for Sen. John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoSunday shows preview: Coronavirus poses questions about school safety; Trump commutes Roger Stone sentence Senate GOP hedges on attending Trump's convention amid coronavirus uptick Court upholds protections for Yellowstone grizzly bears MORE (R-Wyo.), one of the most vocal opponents of the HFCs measure, told The Hill in a statement that this compromise isn’t “real preemption.”

“The minority office offered a two-year pause on state regulation,” said spokesman Mike Danylak. “That will only delay the issue two years.”

He added that Barrasso “has concerns with any legislative effort that will layer new federal rules on a patchwork of current or future state rules – including state rules in two years. Chairman Barrasso still awaits a counter offer from the minority that includes real preemption language.”

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A Carper spokesperson, however, pushed back, saying that Barrasso wants “permanent removal — from both states and EPA — of the authority to regulate the uses of HFCs.”

“Senator Carper does not support a policy approach that permanently leaves no one with the authority to regulate HFC usage,” his spokesperson told The Hill in an email. 

Meanwhile, Murkowski said Wednesday that while her legislation is delayed, it is still in play. 

“What I’m trying to figure out right now is how we end up with what we started to do which is to put in place energy reforms,” she told reporters. “We’re stalled out right now, but we are not dead.”

She also said that Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellHillicon Valley: Facebook considers political ad ban | Senators raise concerns over civil rights audit | Amazon reverses on telling workers to delete TikTok Ernst: Renaming Confederate bases is the 'right thing to do' despite 'heck' from GOP Advocacy groups pressure Senate to reconvene and boost election funding MORE (R-Ky.) has made a “good” and “solid” commitment to her on the bill. 

“We will work through this, but I also recognize that you have limited daylight in an election year to legislate,” she said. 

The Murkowski-Manchin legislation would spur research on a number of types of energy and is the first major package on the topic in more than a decade.

The HFC amendment has become a sticking point on the legislation, with Kennedy and Carper pushing for a vote. Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerDemocrats blast Trump for commuting Roger Stone: 'The most corrupt president in history' A renewed emphasis on research and development funding is needed from the government Data shows seven Senate Democrats have majority non-white staffs MORE (D-N.Y.) has threatened to filibuster if it's not considered.

The White House, meanwhile, is among those expressing opposition to the amendment, citing a lack of preemption language. 

Rebecca Beitsch contributed.