Congressional Energy Bill Has Something For Everyone to Love
Could Be The Biggest Piece of Legislation to Land on President’s Desk
Legislation defining the future of health insurance in the United States keeps on rising from the dead despite the lack of evidence any proposal being put forward can attract enough votes to pass Congress, a fact which has made a mess of the Trump administration’s legislative agenda. While Congress keeps spinning its wheels on healthcare, other initiatives, such as tax reform and infrastructure spending, have gotten sidelined.
But there is a piece of legislation now making its way through Congress that has bipartisan support and which would likely be claimed as a win for Trump if he should be able to sign it. An energy bill, called the Energy and Natural Resources Act (ENRA), has been introduced by Senators Lisa Murkowski, a Republican of Alaska, and Maria Cantwell, a Democrat of Washington, which brings together dozens of energy proposals in a comprehensive package.
It’s got enough in there for just about everyone to love a few things some will hate as well.
Environmentalists and renewable-energy afocionadi will love that the bill grants money from offshore oil and gas projects to state and local governments to buy land for parks and other outdoor recreation areas. It also reauthorizes the Energy Department loan program to companies developing new energy technologies, a program the Trump administration’s budget proposed to eliminate.
Environmentalists will hate the provisions that streamline procedures for the federal government to approves natural gas pipelines and export terminals, and have called for the defeat of the measure for that reason. But Trump, who has spoken of natural gas as a key element of energy dominance agenda, will no doubt love that provision, as will the natural gas, pipeline, and shipping industries.
What are the chances for success? A similar Murkowski-Cantwell bill passed the Senate last year 85 to 12 but later died after environmentalists—but also conservative lobbying groups like the Heritage Foundation—voiced opposition to various provisions.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell may be hungry for a win after the recent healthcare debacle and there are indications he will want to push the measure through the Senate. But the House of Representatives and the various interest groups remain wild cards.
There’s no indication yet Trump will be doing any armtwisting to get the legislation done, but, if it should pass Congress and he signs it, he will no doubt claim it as a victory.
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