09/13/2013 01:04 pm ET Updated Sep 13, 2013

Senate Energy Efficiency Bill: Better Luck Next Week?


The Senate wrapped up work Thursday evening without getting much closer to a vote on proposed energy efficiency legislation. It's not expected to be debated again until sometime next week.

Chunks of Thursday were spent debating not the bipartisan bill from Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio), but other issues -– including Obamacare and the Keystone XL pipeline.

The bill brings together several efficiency measures, including improved building codes, incentives for the use of more efficient products, and funding for research and development of more energy-efficient technologies.

Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) sought to introduce an amendment to the bill that would delay the implementation of health care reform's individual mandate for one year. "I have nothing against this bill and the provisions of it," said Vitter. "I support the vast majority of the provisions of this bill."

At one point, Vitter offered to hold off on the amendment in exchange for a separate vote on his measure next week.

Democrats accused Vitter and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) of trying to block the efficiency measure. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said that Vitter was holding the bill "hostage" and spending "an appreciable amount of time undermining that bipartisan foundation" of the bill with the amendment.

"I'm not blocking anything," said Vitter. "I'm proposing making amendments."

Several senators, both Democrats and Republicans, made floor speeches calling on the State Department to expedite review of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline. "We've been waiting five years," said Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.). "We fought a world war and defeated the Nazis in less time."

Shaheen said in a statement to The Huffington Post that she and Portman are "encouraged by the bipartisan support for our energy efficiency bill."

"Many bipartisan amendments have already been introduced and we’re hoping to [have] a robust debate on each of them."



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