The bipartisan energy efficiency bill that the Senate has debated on-and-off since last year is once again on the verge of becoming the punchline of a bad joke.
Majority Leader Harry Reid compared Republicans to greased pigs as he tried to get support for the legislation, authored by Sens. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., and Rob Portman, R-Ohio.
"Oft times, working with my Senate Republican colleagues reminds me of chasing one of these little pigs in a greased pig contest. Regardless of all efforts, any time we get close to making progress, it stands as though we watch it slip out of our hands, and the Republicans scamper away," the Nevada Democrat said.
"Time is running out on this good piece of legislation, running out again," Reid said. Without advancing the energy efficiency bill, it's not expected Reid will permit a vote on approval of the Keystone XL pipeline project.
"They want to vote on Keystone? They can have a vote on Keystone. That's not good enough for them. They add four or five amendments, it's never quite enough," Reid said. "And so we can see what's going to happen. They're going to let us on the bill today, and they're going to say, 'Because we don't get our amendments, we're not going to vote to get off the bill.' It's happened time and time again. We waste hours and hours."
The Republican offer has not changed much since last week, with the GOP seeking votes on four or five energy-related amendments in addition to the vote on approving the pipeline. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., responded to Reid by again noting that there have been fewer than 10 votes on GOP-selected amendments since last summer.
"We've asked the Democrat majority leader to allow votes on energy amendments that would let our constituents have a say for once. My constituents in Kentucky should be able to weigh in on an EPA rule that would negatively impact existing and future coal plants. Kentuckians deserve a real say on ongoing regulatory efforts to tie up mining permits," McConnell said. "Our constituents should finally be truly heard on the Keystone Pipeline they overwhelmingly support, and the American people deserve a real debate on how we can best tap our own extraordinary natural resources to achieve energy independence at home and how we can help our allies overseas through increased exports of American energy."