Sen. Murkowski: House chose party over policy

Lisa Murkowski worked on a bipartisan bill for two years that didn’t pass because Paul Ryan had train tickets.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski accused House leaders of forgoing negotiations on her overarching energy policy bill to begin holiday celebrations early.

Still steaming more than a week after it became clear her signature piece of legislation would die in the lame duck session of Congress, Murkowski said in a Dec. 16 interview that House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, chose to adjourn the House Dec. 8 to attend a holiday party in New York rather than round up votes for final passage of the final House-Senate conference committee version of her Energy Policy Modernization Act.

According to Murkowski, Ryan and other House Republicans had tickets for a Dec. 8 train from Washington, D.C., to New York City that they didn’t want to miss and thus what would have been the first federal energy reform package in nearly 10 years was left for dead in the last hours of a nearly two-year journey.

“The Speaker said ‘We’ve run out of time’ because they wanted to get on the party train,” Murkowski said.

A spokesperson for Ryan could not be reached for comment.

As chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Murkowski began working on the energy reform bill nearly as soon as Congress convened in 2015 following the mid-term elections in which Republicans took control of the Senate.

The legislation package touched many aspects of domestic energy policy, from ensuring timely decisions on LNG export permits to federally recognizing hydropower as renewable energy and providing federal loan guarantees to states for deployment of energy efficiency and new energy systems, according to her office.

Far more than an energy bill, it also included a fish and wildlife conservation and lands access package long-sought by sportsmen’s groups; a land management package of more than 50 individual bills; and funding for fire mitigation and water management provisions for drought-riddled Western states, aspects championed by Murkowski’s partner on the legislation Washington Sen. Maria Cantwell, the ranking Energy committee Democrat.

In a last-ditch Dec. 8 speech on the Senate floor Murkowski emphasized the bill had gone through the proper committee process with input from both sides of the aisle — a rarity in Washington.

Read on.

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