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)
National Journal
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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.