Keystone pipeline, energy efficiency bill vote go nowhere in the Senate

Gridlock and dysfunction in the US Senate persisted Monday, as a bipartisan bill that would create incentives for a more energy efficient economy was blocked by Republicans who said they weren’t given the opportunity to offer their preferred amendments.

A vote to end a Republican filibuster of the energy efficiency bill, sponsored by Sens. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., and Rob Portman, R-Ohio, received just 55 of the 60 necessary, largely along party lines. In what is a convoluted debate, Republican leaders charge Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid wouldn’t allow them to offer amendments to the bill.

Reid charges he had an agreement with some Republicans to vote on the energy bill in addition to a separate measure approving the Keystone XL oil pipeline, only to have the GOP leadership demand more amendments.

It’s a messy procedural debate that is emblematic of the partisan politics that has made it very difficult for the Senate to make progress on significant legislation, with a few exceptions.

Sen. Mary Landrieu’s status as a vulnerable Democrat up for re-election in a red state also played a role in the situation. Control of the U.S. Senate next year could hinge on whether she or her Republican opponent win her Louisiana seat in November.

Although many Senate Democrats oppose the construction of the pipeline, Landrieu supports it. She wanted a vote on the pipeline, and accused Republican leaders Monday of wanting a political issue more than approval of the pipeline.

If anything happened Monday, it’s that a vulnerable Democrat was denied a victory on an issue important to her state.