Energy-Water Vote to Come Monday or Tuesday

The Senate is looking to wrap up consideration of its $37.5 billion Energy-Water fiscal 2017 appropriations bill by Monday or Tuesday, Energy-Water Subcommittee Chairman Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., said Thursday.  

Lawmakers had submitted more than 60 amendments to the bill by a deadline that Alexander had set for 1 p.m. A vote has been scheduled for just one of those on Monday afternoon, but Alexander said all “germane amendments” will get a vote by Tuesday.  

“We think we have all the amendments,” Alexander said. “We have asked to have them by 1 o'clock ... so that we can sort of, by consensus, finish up on Monday and Tuesday.”  

Meanwhile, the Senate rejected two amendments by roll call votes Thursday afternoon while adopting, 76-19, one by Al Franken, D-Minn., that would provide $8.5 million for the Department of Energy’s tribal energy loan guarantee program.  

The Senate rejected, 56-42, an amendment offered by John Hoeven, R-N.D., that would prevent the Army Corps of Engineers from using federal funds to implement its “Waters of the U.S.” rule, which expands federal jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act. The amendment was subject to a 60-vote threshold.  

The White House issued a veto threat Wednesday for the entire bill, citing the potential rider as a central reason for its opposition.  

“I strongly believe we should let the courts decide whether the executive branch has overreached in its interpretation of congressional statute, just like the Constitution calls for,” said Energy-Water’s top Democrat, Dianne Feinstein of California. “The president has threatened to veto the entire Energy-Water appropriations bill if this amendment is included in it, and right now we have the best opportunity in seven years to pass this bill as a stand-alone piece of legislation.”  

Republicans have looked for any opportunity to overturn the WOTUS rule-making. Both chambers passed a Congressional Review Act resolution aimed at nullifying the rule in January. President Barack Obama vetoed that resolution, and the Senate fell short on the vote to overturn it.  

“It’s critical to preserve the prohibition on implementing WOTUS because the bill will greatly expand the scope of EPA regulations over nearly every water in the U.S., threatening farmers and job creators with permitting requirements that make it more difficult to produce our nation’s food, as well as for construction,” Hoeven said in defense of his amendment.  

Senators also rejected, 48-49, an amendment by Dan Coats, R-Ind., that would have limited the use of the Department of Energy’s Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing (ATVM) loan program. The vote was subject to a 60-vote threshold.  

A raid of the AVTM program funding has been eyed as a possible offset to help pay for proposed federal responses to the Flint, Mich., drinking water crisis. Michigan Democrats Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow are working on a legislation to deliver the aid, although both senators have declined to say what form it might take.  

The Senate will vote Monday afternoon on an amendment proposed by Patty Murray, D-Wash., that would order the Army Corps of Engineers to adhere more closely to federal requirements that it purchase most of its anchor and mooring chain from U.S. manufacturers.  

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