Senate Opens Debate on Bipartisan Energy Bill

Date: January 28, 2016 Last Edit: January 29, 2016

Observers Cautiously Optimistic for Bill’s Prospects

The Senate this week opened debate on a carefully-negotiated energy bill that addresses key priorities of both parties, which, if passed, would be the first comprehensive legislation since 2007. The bill is modest in scope, and focuses on updating energy infrastructure to cope with increased oil and natural gas production in the US, as well as improvements to adapt the electrical grid to the increased reliance on renewable fuel sources. However, it does not seek to dramatically enhance the production of fossil energy or include provisions to address climate change. The New York Times reported the bill was produced through the committee process, passing the Energy Committee on “a bipartisan vote of 18 to 4,” and has the support of both Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Harry Reid. In an encouraging note, The Hill reported that while the White House expressed “concerns” with many of the bill’s provisions in a statement of administration policy, it did stop short “of threatening to veto the legislation, saying it supports many major aspects in it and wants to work with lawmakers to resolve problems.” The White House wrote, “The administration appreciates the bipartisan support for addressing key energy and conservation priorities.”

What This Means for Small Business

The bipartisan support for the Senate energy bill, and the indication that the White House sees potential in negotiating with Congress to improve the legislation, is welcome provided it brings more work for small businesses involved in the energy sector. The bill will address key energy issues that have the potential for increasing energy production and lowering costs for consumers and businesses. In addition, while the legislative process often seems completely broken, when lawmakers from both parties put aside their ideologies, they are able to make progress through regular order.

Additional Reading

The story was also covered by Fuel Fix (TX), a separate article in The Hill, and E&E Publishing.

Note: this article is intended to keep small business owners up on the latest news. It does not necessarily represent the policy stances of NFIB.

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