The future of the Shaheen-Portman energy bill in doubt

The bipartisan Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act, commonly known as the Shaheen-Portman bill, is once again facing an uncertain future as it goes before the U.S. Senate. The energy efficiency bill was first proposed by Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Rob Portman (R-OH) over a year ago, but has since languished in a Congress that is embroiled in bitter partisan fighting.

A revised draft of the proposed law is once again up for a vote in the Senate, though Republicans and Democrats are trying to figure out how to proceed. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has scheduled an upcoming cloture vote to end the debate over the bill – essentially, a vote to vote on it – but Republicans are trying to add energy amendments before allowing the law to push through.

A key sticking point on both sides is the controversial Keystone XL Pipeline, a project that was halted by the Obama administration back in 2010. The Republicans want to include language in the Shaheen-Portman legislation that would approve the construction project. Senator Reid has said that he will only allow a stand-alone binding vote on Keystone if the energy bill is allowed to go through without any additional changes.

The Republicans are seeking to add four amendments to the bill that were not previously included. In order to pass the cloture vote and make it to the floor for a general debate, at least 60 senators will need to vote for its approval – something that will not be accomplished with just the Democratic majority. There is a political stalemate over this energy legislation – the first of its kind since 2007 – with neither side willing to compromise.

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