Pressure Time for Energy Infrastructure Bill

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US lawmakers are gearing up for a summer fight over a second infrastructure package that will include the bulk of the climate and energy-related provisions under consideration in Washington. "We should not leave for the August break until we’re finished with what we’ve been doing in the House [of Representatives] and Senate," US Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) said Tuesday. Markey -- an author of failed 2009 cap-and-trade legislation -- warned of losing momentum to other priorities after lawmakers return from their traditional summer holiday recess in August. Legislators are currently working through what is expected to be a Democrat-only infrastructure bill. That follows a bipartisan agreement reached with the White House last week that addresses more traditional areas of infrastructure such as roads and bridges (OD Jun.24'21). Reconciliation Roulette Democrats plan to use a process known as reconciliation to pass the larger package, which is expected to raise corporate taxes and spending on education and childcare, and address climate issues. Reconciliation requires only a majority of lawmakers in the Senate to approve budget legislation, rather than the 60 votes necessary to end debate and pass other measures. US Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said last week they expect votes in both the Senate and the House on both bills in July. US President Joe Biden raised Republican hackles late last week when he said that he would not sign the bipartisan infrastructure bill until the Senate passes the Democrat-led initiative. He later walked back those statements, although the Senate's top Republican, Mitch McConnell (R-KY), continued to hit out at the idea Monday, chastising Democrats for holding a "bipartisan bill hostage over a separate and partisan process." US Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) -- a key swing voter in the 50-50 Senate -- said Tuesday he expects to vote for the reconciliation bill. "I’ve agreed that that can be done. I just haven’t agreed on the amount because I haven’t seen everything that everybody is wanting to put on a bill," Manchin said Tuesday on MSNBC. Last week Manchin put forward energy-focused proposals for the larger reconciliation bill, including increased funding for carbon capture projects, grid resilience and natural gas transmission lines (OD Jun.22'21). It's Complicated The reconciliation process will complicate which climate-related measures can be included in the bill. Biden officials, for example, have touted a clean energy standard to reduce emissions in the electricity sector as part of the overall goal of getting to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions from power plants by 2035. "There will be a clean energy standard in a Democratic bill, but we have to figure out how to get around the parliamentary [rules]" that stipulate the provisions have to be related to the nation’s budget, Markey told a virtual event hosted by the group Our Energy Policy on Tuesday. Minnesota Sen. Tina Smith is spearheading efforts to adapt a clean energy standard to the reconciliation process. One key question for lawmakers is how to pay for the spending provisions. Democrats are looking to increase corporate tax rates from 21% and to cut special tax breaks enjoyed by the oil and gas sector (OD May28'21). Emily Meredith, Washington

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