Keystone Squabble Dooms Bipartisan Energy Bill

WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 14: Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) heads for a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing in the U.S. Capitol building May 14, 2013 in Washington, DC. Army Lt. Gen. Terry Wolff, Director of Strategic Plans and Policy, J-5, Joint Staff, and Defense Undersecretary for Policy James Miller will be briefing the committee on the situation in Syria. (Photo by Allison Shelley/Getty Images)
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Jason Plautz
May 12, 2014, 3:22 p.m.

Amid a dispute about amendments, a bipartisan bill on energy efficiency has fallen short in the Senate, and with it the chamber’s opportunity to vote on the Keystone XL oil-sands pipeline.

The energy bill from Democrat Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire and Republican Rob Portman of Ohio fell by a 55-36 vote, with just three Republicans voting to end debate on the bill. Among those voting against it were Republicans John Hoeven of North Dakota, Roger Wicker of Mississippi, and Johnny Isakson of Georgia, who were all sponsors on the bill.

The energy bill had been paired with an up-or-down vote to approve the Keystone pipeline, a longtime Republican priority.

Republicans had hoped to also offer four or five energy amendments to the bill, including measures related to the Environmental Protection Agency’s emission rules for power plants and natural-gas exports. But Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid filled the tree, saying repeatedly that Republicans were moving the goalposts on the bill, and that both sides had agreed to vote on Shaheen-Portman and then Keystone, with no other amendments.

That led to Republicans shedding their support for the bill, which had gotten 79 votes to open debate last week.

Portman said before the vote that he was hopeful a deal could eventually be worked out, saying it was “a reasonable request” to get energy amendments on the bill and that there was a chance the energy-efficiency language could come back.

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