Biparty deal attracts amendments on energy and environment
Senators launched amendment votes on the bipartisan infrastructure bill last night, but a COVID-19 case threatens to upend the Senate schedule.
Senator Lindsey Graham (RS.C.), who tested positive for COVID-19 yesterday after experiencing mild flu-like symptoms, could cloud the math of how Bill proceeds.
Graham, who is fully vaccinated, was at a rally with several other Senators on Senator Joe Manchin’s (DW.Va.) houseboat in Washington this weekend. Graham is one of the members of the bipartisan group that negotiated the infrastructure package.
Despite the news, Manchin, who tested negative, told reporters he did not expect the Senate to slow down the bill. However, more disease could affect Democrats’ two-way infrastructure plans.
As these questions crept in, the Senate last night rejected an amendment by Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) On a 45-48 vote that would have banned funding for building code updates. premises that are gradually phasing out heating and natural gas appliances. It’s an issue that stems from local bans on natural gas across the country – widely contested by the GOP and industry – in an attempt to electrify buildings and tackle climate change.
“Builders and real estate agents will tell you that construction costs go up, and heating and cooking costs go up, if you are not allowed to use natural gas in construction,” Barrasso said at Ground, citing debates on natural gas. bans in towns in Massachusetts.
The bipartite bill, RH 3684, includes provisions that would provide money and technical assistance to states and communities for the adoption of a building and energy efficiency code.
Senator Jeanne Shaheen (DN.H.) noted that the National Association of Home Builders and the American Gas Association support the language of the building code as it is written. “This provision doesn’t ban, it doesn’t even affect natural gas,” Shaheen said on the ground.
Senators, however, approved two bipartisan amendments to the bill, one on the telecommunications workforce and the other on the Indian health service. Those votes kicked off a process that could see further action on the climate, energy and chemicals proposals ahead of the final passage of the infrastructure bill in the coming days.
The bipartisan deal includes billions of dollars for public transit, electric vehicle charging and clean buses, although environmental groups and progressives have said the funding was not enough (Daily E&E, July 30).
The package also contains a large chunk of the energy bill passed by the Energy and Natural Resources Committee last month, including nearly $ 27.7 billion to build the grid and $ 27.8 billion to capture. carbon, hydrogen and direct air capture efforts.
Notably, however, the final bill did away with the $ 8 billion 48C tax credit for clean energy manufacturing, enthusiastically backed by Manchin, the chairman of the ENR and a member of the bipartisan negotiating group.
The COVID-19 dilemma
Graham’s positive test has raised fears that several senators will be forced to self-quarantine and remove whip accounts on the bipartisan bill and the budget resolution Democrats plan to pass immediately after.
Manchin said he tested negative for COVID-19 yesterday, as did several of the other participants at the rally. “No,” Manchin told reporters when asked if Graham’s positive test could affect the timeline of the bipartisan bill. “Was good.”
The bipartisan bill won 67 votes on a procedural motion last week. But Democrats will need every member of their caucus to pass the budget resolution, which sets the stage for their $ 3.5 trillion reconciliation plan, in the 50-50 Senate.
Schumer pushed to move both measures before the Senate leaves for the August recess, meaning votes could bleed next week, when the chamber is expected to be out of town. Republicans, however, yesterday pushed for a more deliberative process on amendments to the bipartisan bill.
“This bill should not be rushed by the Senate without giving all members the opportunity to read it, understand it and offer their suggestions for improving it,” said Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) in the room.
Possible Critical Mineral Amendments, PFAS
The Senate will consider other amendments today, starting with that of Senator Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.) Regarding the cost allocation of highways.
Senators proposed dozens of amendments last night. Some might end up in the final bill, but the process for which proposals get votes – and when – is still ongoing.
Barrasso proposed several other changes, including legislation to create a national strategic uranium reserve and speed up licensing for domestic production of essential minerals.
Another Barrasso Amendment – originally introduced as stand-alone legislation – would target the controversy surrounding new Bureau of Land Management candidate Tracy Stone-Manning by requiring the agency to mitigate tree spikes (Daily E&E, July 29).
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (DN.Y.), meanwhile, is pushing for additional provisions on PFAS, the “eternal chemicals” that have polluted water across the country. The bill would currently provide $ 10 billion in total for PFAS clean-up.
One Gillibrand proposal would require the EPA to set maximum contaminant levels for PFAS, also known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, while another would ask the agency to set quality criteria for the water for chemicals under the Clean Water Act.
Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) Has also said he will push for several conservation-related changes, as well as a provision to establish a minimum number of sales of oil, gas and wind leases on federal lands.
The question now is how long the process will take, with the budget vote looming and senators eager to return home in August.
“The longer it takes to complete the bill, the more we will be here,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (DN.Y.) said yesterday.