Early this afternoon the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources passed S. 761, “The Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act,” more commonly known as the Shaheen-Portman bill after its two authors, Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Rob Portman (R-OH). The 22-member Committee passed the bill on a strong voice vote with only three Senators castings votes in opposition.
The only amendment that was offered (and agreed to) was a manager’s amendment from Sen. Portman. The bill’s sponsors received unified praise from Senators during the markup for their bipartisan efforts and their work to promoting energy efficiency. Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR) requested that Senators hold their amendments until the legislation reached the floor of the Senate.
The Committee went on to discuss a number of possible amendments and issues that might be addressed on the floor. It was clear that there was great interest in expanding the scope of this legislation, with a number of Senators discussing the issues they would like addressed. This is obviously a bit of a Pandora ’s Box but at least Senators are talking about floor action on energy, which hasn’t happened in a long time.
Manufacturers continue to urge Senator Reid to bring this bill to the floor as soon as possible. Energy efficiency is vital to manufacturers’ ability to compete, and this bill should be a no-brainer given its potential for job creation and energy savings. And it is a great way to start bridging some of the divides that have too long prevented the Senate from having a constructive legislative debate on energy policy.
Chip Yost is assistant vice president of energy and resources policy, National Association of Manufacturers.