UPDATED: Comprehensive Energy Policy Legislation A Side-by-Side Comparison of H.R. 8 & S. 2012

By Tim Peckinpaugh and Kathleen Nicholas

Linked below is our updated side-by-side comparison of the House and Senate energy bills, which are moving to conference to reconcile differences in the hope of producing a final bill.  The principal difference from our earlier side-by-side comparison is the inclusion of several natural resource and energy R&D provisions added to the House bill late last month in order to prepare the bill for conference and permit the appointment of House conferees.This is the first comprehensive energy bill to advance this far in the legislative process in nine years.

In the House, the bipartisan spirit appeared to wane in August and September, 2015.  The House’s bill lost much of its bipartisanship following a substitute amendment offered by Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI).  On September 30, the Energy and Commerce Committee marked the Upton substitute, which was reported out of committee on a largely party-line vote, 32-20.  Ranking Member Frank Pallone (D-NJ) promised the Republicans that without the bipartisan concessions, H.R. 8 could be vetoed by the President.  And, indeed, after the bill passed through the full Committee, the White House released an official veto threat against the legislation.  Democrats’ attempts at amending the bill on the floor largely failed.  The bill ultimately passed the House in December by a predominantly party-line vote of 249-174, with only nine Democrats voting in favor.

Over in the Senate, S. 2012 first received floor consideration in late January, 2016.  The bill’s sponsors and party leadership were hopeful that, in spite of the anticipated introduction of potentially controversial amendments, the bipartisan spirit of the bill would remain intact throughout floor consideration.  This was largely true until the bill hit a roadblock as the Senators from Michigan insisted that the bill’s passage be contingent on Federal funds for Flint, MI, to address its lead water crisis.  Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) eventually pulled the bill from the floor after it failed to overcome a procedural motion.  The Michigan Senators continued negotiations with Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Jim Inhofe (R-OK) to come to an agreement on Flint.  Finally, in April, an agreement came together and S. 2012 was brought back to the floor.  After the consideration of final amendments, the chamber passed the bill by an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote of 85-12.

On May 25, 2016, the House passed an amended version of S. 2012 by a vote of 241-178, a necessary procedure to allow the chambers to form a conference committee to reconcile differences and produce a final bill.  In addition to amending the Senate bill to reflect the H.R. 8 language, the House wrapped in more than a half dozen other House-passed natural resources and R&D  bills that had yet to see any progress in the Senate.  The final package drew yes votes from only eight Democrats, showing that the House continues to favor a more partisan package that may be a difficult sell to their Senate colleagues.

Future of the Legislation
Up next, the two chambers will form a formal conference committee where they will reconcile the many differences between the two bills.  Both Rep. Upton and Sen. Murkowski have expressed eagerness in getting the bill to the President before the summer recess, which starts July 16.  There is a lot of work yet ahead, but it is expected that efforts will get underway within the coming weeks.  As the Chairperson of the Senate’s committee of jurisdiction, Sen. Murkowski will “hold the gavel” for the conference committee since the House held control of the proceedings during the last major energy bill conference in 2007.  Sen. Murkowski’s optimism and perseverance during the months-long Flint negotiations highlight her ability and willingness to work with her Democratic partner, Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA), to accomplish this overhaul legislation and present a final package to the President that is not only comprehensive, but bipartisan in nature.

After amending and passing S. 2012 in the House, Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) appointed these 24 Republicans and 16 Democrats to the conference committee:

Republicans

  • Fred Upton of Michigan (likely to chair the House conferees)
  • Joe Barton of Texas
  • Ed Whitfield of Kentucky
  • John Shimkus of Illinois
  • Bill Johnson of Ohio
  • Robert Latta of Ohio
  • Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington
  • Bill Flores of Texas
  • Pete Olson of Texas
  • David McKinley of West Virginia
  • Mike Pompeo of Kansas
  • Morgan Griffith of Virginia
  • Markwayne Mullin of Oklahoma
  • Rob Bishop of Utah
  • Don Young of Alaska
  • Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming
  • Jeff Denham of California
  • Bruce Westerman of Arkansas
  • Lamar Smith of Texas
  • Randy Weber of Texas
  • Mike Conaway of Texas
  • Glenn Thompson of Pennsylvania
  • Cresent Hardy of Nevada
  • Lee Zeldin of New York

Democrats

  • Frank Pallone of New Jersey
  • Raúl Grijalva of Arizona
  • Collin Peterson of Minnesota
  • Eddie Bernice Johnson of Texas
  • Peter DeFazio of Oregon
  • Bobby Rush of Illinois
  • Lois Capps of California
  • Jared Huffman of California
  • Doris Matsui of California
  • Kathy Castor of Florida
  • Dave Loebsack of Iowa
  • John Sarbanes of Maryland
  • Peter Welch of Vermont
  • Ben Ray Luján of New Mexico
  • Paul Tonko of New York
  • Debbie Dingell of Michigan

The Senate has yet to appoint conferees, and has not indicated when it will do so.  Some Senate Democrats have expressed reluctance to proceed to conference until the scope of the conference is narrowed to exclude topics that provoked White House veto threats.

Side-by-Side Comparison
In preparation for conference, we updated our side-by-side comparison of the House- and Senate-passed energy bills.  Our analysis shows 25 issue areas that overlap between the House and Senate energy bills. Those commonalities are charted in the attached side-by-side comparison.  This highlights that while the House Democrats complained about partisanship, the House bill still has plenty of similarities to the bipartisan Senate bill.

Following the chart of commonalities is a list of provisions unique to S. 2012 and then a list unique for H.R. 8.

To view the updated comparison, click here.

Legislative History
In July, 2015, comprehensive bills were introduced in the House and Senate aimed at modernizing U.S. energy policy for the first time since 2007.  Notwithstanding their respective controversies, both bills started their legislative journeys with bipartisan support.  That same month, the Senate reported their bill (S. 2012) out of Committee 18-4, and the House bill (H.R. 8) passed unanimously through the Energy and Power Subcommittee.

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