Can an energy bill escape election year politics?

over 3 years ago

By Chelsea Henderson

As Washington, DC continues to dig-slash-melt its way out of a 36-hour blizzard, the U.S. Senate is warming up consideration of a bipartisan energy bill passed out of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee last year by Chairman Lisa Murkowski (R-AK). Congress hasn't passed an energy bill since 2007, and this bill represents the best chance for the U.S. to catch up with modern day energy needs.

Presidential election years are not known for inspiring robust cooperation across the aisle, neither side wanting to give the other a "victory" to point to on the campaign trail, but in the words of late President Ronald Reagan, "There is no limit to the amount of good you can do if you don't care who gets the credit."

This bill would improve U.S. energy policy by promoting efficiency policies to save energy, expand domestic supplies, facilitate investment into critical infrastructure, protect the grid, boost energy trade, improve the performance of federal agencies and otherwise renew programs that have proven effective. It's not a climate change bill; that particular hot button issue sits in the jurisdiction of the Environment and Public Works Committee. Murkowski and her Democratic counterpart, Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA), did a commendable job at staving off controversial amendments as they led this substantial bill through committee.

It would be refreshing to see the same restraint for the common good exercised on the Senate floor.

Americans are discouraged by their political leaders, and I can't say I blame them. Faith isn't going to be restored by imposing one party's will on another or holding out for all at the cost of getting nothing. The art of leading requires more finesse, and ultimately, recognition of when compromise is appropriate. As Murkowski leads this bill on the Senate floor —just one of numerous steps that have to be taken before a bill will ever get to the President's desk— I hope she finds a Senate willing to put aside their talking points and message amendments and instead roll up their sleeves to tackle urgent policy matters.