U.S. Senate moves to debate energy savings bill, Keystone bid stalls

Tue May 6, 2014 12:33pm EDT
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* Unclear if Senate will vote on Keystone

* Stalemate could kill bipartisan energy bill

WASHINGTON May 6 (Reuters) - The U.S. Senate agreed on Tuesday to begin debate on a bipartisan energy efficiency bill, but seems unlikely to pass it unless lawmakers agree on how to proceed with the long-delayed Keystone XL oil pipeline project.

The Senate voted 79 to 20 to advance the legislation, the first big energy bill to reach the Senate floor since 2007.

Offered by Democrat Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire and Republican Rob Portman of Ohio, the White House-backed bill would save energy through tougher building codes and by making federal government offices install new technologies.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat has offered to hold a vote on a separate bill to provide Congressional approval of Keystone if Republicans allow passage of the energy measure, a version of which has already passed the House of Representatives.

But Republicans want to add several amendments to the energy bill, including one that would take decision on TransCanada's Corp's Keystone pipeline out of President Barack Obama's hands and give it to Congress.

The State Department recently delayed a decision on Keystone, likely until after the November congressional elections.

As of mid-day Tuesday lawmakers had not yet found common ground, and it was unclear if they would. The stalemate could end up killing the energy bill and preventing a vote on Keystone as well.   Continued...