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Sen. Rob Portman Frustrated Senate Didn’t Vote on Bipartisan Energy Bill

Thursday, December 19, 2013 at 6:35 PM

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Photo: U.S. Senate

Republican Sen. Rob Portman says he's frustrated the Senate didn't take up his bipartisan energy bill for a vote this year. As ideastream's Nick Castele reports, a number of amendments became a source of debate.

Portman says the bill he’s cosponsoring with Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen to develop new building energy codes and train workers in energy efficient construction had support from Democratic Senators and the White House.

But its chances of being taken up for a vote sank under the weight of amendments—some that had nothing to do with energy.

One would have delayed the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate to get health insurance. Another, which had backing from some Democrats, would have thrown Congressional support behind the Keystone XL pipeline.

Back in September, Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid spoke out against the unrelated Republican-backed amendments attached to the bill.

Portman acknowledged one could make the case that Republican amendments slowed the bill’s progress—but he says a vote would have solved that.

“My feeling was at the time that we ought to let these people have their votes,” Portman said. “Some would go down, some would go up. I think, frankly, that the Democrat majority would have been able to defeat any amendments that were extraneous to energy.”

Portman says there’s still a chance some of the amendments will be shaken off next year, and others renegotiated, which might improve its chances on the floor. 

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