Proponents of an energy-efficiency bill may want to thank Russia for their measure finally getting its long-awaited day in the Senate.
Because of the impromptu diplomatic talks triggered by Russia that are under way in hopes of resolving the Syrian conflict, the Senate has put on the back burner a resolution to authorize military action against the Middle Eastern country. Instead, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., on Wednesday afternoon moved to a bipartisan energy-efficiency bill that the Senate had planned to debate this week before the Syrian debate escalated.
“I think it’s appropriate that rather than sit here and tread water and do nothing, we should move forward on this legislation,” Reid said on the Senate floor in reference to the bill sponsored by Sens. Jeanne Shaheen, D”‘N.H., and Rob Portman, R-Ohio.
That wasn’t exactly a rousing introduction to this energy debate, but the measure’s authors and the leaders of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee are nonetheless seizing the moment.
“It’s essentially the first stand-alone energy bill to be debated on the floor of the Senate since 2007,” said Energy and Natural Resources Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore.
Comparing today’s energy-efficiency measure to the 2007 mammoth of a bill is like apples to oranges (or grapes to watermelons). The energy bill the Senate is debating now is 30 pages long, and has fully offset costs and just one mandatory measure: to make the federal government’s use of energy more efficient. The bill also includes a host of voluntary measures, such as strengthening national building codes and directing the Energy Department to encourage development of energy-efficiency technology.
In contrast, the 2007 bill was 310 pages long, cost the government millions of dollars, and significantly strengthened both the renewable-fuel standard for gasoline and fuel-economy standards for vehicles.
Today, Republicans are almost universally opposed to federal mandates of all kinds, and Democrats aren’t going to bat for them like they used to.
“Nobody is going to be able to say this is part of a dumb federal mandate or some kind of run-from-Washington, one-size-fits-all approach,” Wyden said.
A few minutes later, Energy and Natural Resources ranking member Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, took to the floor to say: “I would not be supporting any provision if it required mandatory adoption of those [efficiency] codes. But this bill is voluntary.”
The bill has support from a wide range of groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Natural Resources Defense Council. Its detractors are few, but among them is the free-market Heritage Foundation, which claims the bill encourages wasteful programs and incentives.
The likelihood of this measure’s passage hinges much less on its substance — which most senators support — and more on other circumstances, namely what controversial amendments may be offered and whether the Senate refocuses its attention on Syria.
It was unclear by press time Wednesday evening which contentious amendments, including one approving the Keystone XL oil pipeline and another stripping the Environmental Protection Agency of its power to regulate greenhouse-gas emissions, might get votes. Sen. David Vitter, R-La., objected to allowing more amendments Wednesday until a deal was worked out on one he offered related to Obamacare.
What We're Following See More »
Trump, in a statement: “Based on the fact that the Democratic nominating process is totally rigged and Crooked Hillary Clinton and Deborah Wasserman Schultz will not allow Bernie Sanders to win, and now that I am the presumptive Republican nominee, it seems inappropriate that I would debate the second place finisher. ... I will wait to debate the first place finisher in the Democratic Party, probably Crooked Hillary Clinton, or whoever it may be.”
"It's about time for unity," said UAW President Dennis Williams. "We're endorsing Hillary Clinton. She's gotten 3 million more votes than Bernie, a million more votes than Donald Trump. She's our nominee." He called Sanders "a great friend of the UAW" while saying Trump "does not support the economic security of UAW families." Some 28 percent of UAW members indicated their support for Trump in an internal survey.
"Donald Trump on Thursday reached the number of delegates needed to clinch the Republican nomination for president, completing an unlikely rise that has upended the political landscape and sets the stage for a bitter fall campaign. Trump was put over the top in the Associated Press delegate count by a small number of the party's unbound delegates who told the AP they would support him at the convention."
"Clinton and Bernie Sanders "are now devoting additional money to television advertising. A day after Sanders announced a new ad buy of less than $2 million in the state, Clinton announced her own television campaign. Ads featuring actor Morgan Freeman as well as labor leader and civil rights activist Dolores Huerta will air beginning on Fridayin Fresno, Sacramento, and Los Angeles media markets. Some ads will also target Latino voters and Asian American voters. The total value of the buy is about six figures according to the Clinton campaign." Meanwhile, a new poll shows Sanders within the margin of error, trailing Clinton 44%-46%.