UPDATE 2-U.S. Senate Republicans block energy bill, forfeit Keystone vote

Mon May 12, 2014 7:41pm EDT
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(Details of blocked bill, Landrieu, Portman quote)

By Thomas Ferraro and Timothy Gardner

WASHINGTON May 12 (Reuters) - U.S. Senate Republicans on Monday blocked an energy-efficiency bill backed by manufacturers and environmentalists, forfeiting a chance to vote on the long-delayed Keystone XL oil pipeline.

On a nearly party-line vote of 55-36, President Barack Obama's Democrats fell short of the 60 votes needed to advance the bipartisan energy bill supported by the White House.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, had offered a vote on a separate bill to take the final decision on Keystone out of Obama's hands and give it to Congress if Republicans allowed passage of the energy bill.

But Republicans refused. They complained that Reid barred them from offering amendments to the bill, including one that would have reined in emissions-cutting regulations on coal-fired power plants, a top strategy in Obama's fight against climate change.

The blocked energy-efficiency bill would cut electricity use by imposing tough building codes and requiring federal data centers to find ways to consolidate and become more efficient.

In turn, the bill, sponsored by Senators Jeanne Shaheen, a New Hampshire Democrat, and Rob Portman, an Ohio Republican, would help protect the environment, create nearly 200,000 jobs, and save consumers billions of dollars a year by 2030, backers said.

"Today's failure to move forward on a bipartisan energy efficiency bill is yet another disappointing example of Washington's dysfunction," Portman said.   Continued...