GOP energy negotiator accuses Murkowski of ‘bizarre’ promise


The Hill — A House chairman assigned to an energy bill conference committee said it was “a little bit bizarre” to hear a Senate Republican promise to cut provisions from the bill that could earn a presidential veto.

Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah), the chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, said it defeats the purpose of going to a joint House and Senate conference committee if Republicans are going to preemptively agree to remove controversial, conservative provisions from the bill.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski

Sen. Lisa Murkowski

“As far as I understood, I was not privy to any conversations in which somebody made a deal that said this stuff will not be in or will be in,” Bishop told reporters Thursday. ”A conference is a conference. You handle it as a conference.”

Senate negotiators – primarily the chairwoman and ranking member on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), respectively – have said the energy bill conference committee should produce a bill that can get to President Obama for his signature this year.

The statements mean, implicitly, that certain provisions are going to have to come out of the House-passed energy bill. Among the controversial provisions are GOP-backed measures to help relieve the California drought and prevent wildfires, for example.

When the Senate voted to go to a conference committee on Tuesday, Murkowski said, “I will reiterate my personal commitment to a final bill that can pass both chambers and be signed into law by the president. Now, that doesn’t mean that we’re going to unilaterally disarm ourselves in conference negotiations, but my objective here is to deliver a law.”

Asked whether he was confused by that and other statements, Bishop said, “Yes.”

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