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Can Congress Ever Have a Reasonable Energy Debate? Can Congress Ever Have a Reasonable Energy Debate?

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Can Congress Ever Have a Reasonable Energy Debate?

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The Capitol Rotunda(Chet Susslin)

Can Congress Ever Have a Reasonable Energy Debate?

Over the course of the past week, Senate Democrats and Republicans worked to find a way forward on a modest energy-efficiency bill authored by Sens. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire and Rob Portman of Ohio. The bill has bipartisan backing and lawmakers on both ends of the political spectrum agree on the benefits of energy savings.

 

The bill comes up for a cloture vote on Monday, but the fate of the legislation is far from certain. Whether or not it passes, the fact that Shaheen-Portman has faced so many hurdles before arriving at any kind of a vote points to the difficulty of moving even noncontroversial, bipartisa nenergy measures through the upper chamber.

That difficulty has some senators worried about the prospects of passing meaningful energypolicy. "We have things that need to be resolved and advanced in the energy sector," said Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, ranking member on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee. "If we can't get an energy-efficiency bill through the floor, what does that say about our ability as a Senate to act?"

What will it take for lawmakers to pass an energy bill or carry out meaningful debate on energypolicy? How might the political calculus on energy change after the midterm elections? And what gets lost when bipartisan bills can't get to a vote?

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