Democratic News

Jul 12 2016

Cantwell: It’s Time to Move Forward on Energy Policy.

Cantwell: Our House colleagues said they didn’t want to waste time on things that would be vetoed by the president.

Watch Sen. Cantwell’s opening statement. Share this news on Twitter.

Washington, D.C. – Today, Ranking Member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) spoke on the Senate floor ahead of an important vote to continue work on the Senate’s comprehensive, bipartisan energy bill. The vote was on the motion to go to conference with the House.

Sens. Cantwell and Murkowski have spent many hours hammering out an agreement on a process and ground rules that will generate a conference report they can both support. The House Republicans also agreed that a final conference report will not contain measures the president would veto. After consulting with Sen. Reid and Democratic members of the Energy Committee, Sen. Cantwell recommended her colleagues agree to move forward with a formal conversation with the House. The Democrats accepted her recommendation, and the Senate voted to proceed with conference by a vote of 84-3.

Conferees from the Senate side will include Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), James Risch (R-Idaho), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Bernard Sanders (I-Vt.).

Read Sen. Cantwell’s full statement below:

“I join my colleague from Alaska, the chair of the Senate Energy Committee, to urge my colleagues today to move forward on going to conference on the energy bill.

“My colleagues here will remember when we passed a bill 85-12. It included a great deal of provisions, like my colleague just said, on modernizing the electricity grid; investing in smart buildings, advanced composite materials, energy storage; improving cybersecurity and critical infrastructure; and training the energy workforce for tomorrow.

“This was a very worked-over process in the committee and on the Senate floor, and a very collaborative process between our colleagues on both sides of the aisle. So, it did take some discussion with our House colleagues—because the package that they passed over there was a very different product, less bipartisan with a lot of veto threats in it.

“Our House colleagues have made some comments about the legislation that has made it helpful for us to move forward. We met with our House colleagues, the Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Mr. Upton and the Committee on Natural Resources Chair Mr. Bishop. They said that they didn't want to waste time on things that are going to be vetoed by the president of the United States. We took that as a good sign that they were willing to sit down and talk about legislation that could move forward in a positive fashion.

“Sen. Murkowski’s staff and my staff have rolled our sleeves up and tried to look at ways that we could talk about how we move forward here, so all of our colleagues could have confidence that we were going to work on something that would be a final product that would get to the president’s desk. I thank my colleague from Alaska for her indulgence in that process. I know she had conversations with Sen. Reid about no poison pills and that she wasn't signing off on those kinds of activities.

“So we're here to say: let's continue the good bipartisan effort that existed in the Senate bill, and work with our colleagues to resolve these issues. There are many thorny issues that still need to be addressed. Even though the Senate worked out many of the issues, there are still issues in the House bill on water and fire and a variety of other issues that are going to take some dialogue and provide the opportunity for us to talk. And if we can reach a conclusion—great. But if we can't, I think we've all decided that moving forward on the basis of energy policy that we can agree to is a very important concept for all of us.

“As my colleague from Alaska said, it is time to move forward on energy policy. So, I encourage my colleagues to vote ‘yes’ on this motion. Let us work to protect these key provisions and move forward on getting a bill that we can all send to the president's desk.”