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Another approps meltdown

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Feb 27, 2024
Illustration of the Capitol dome opening up to reveal an emergency button with a hand hovering above about to press it.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Sen. John Kennedy offered a bleak outlook for the energy-water spending bill, as Senate leaders try to strike a deal ahead of Friday's deadline.

Why it matters: Kennedy, the top Senate GOP appropriator on the Energy and Water Development Subcommittee, said that title isn't done yet.

Zoom in: Kennedy expects passage of a stopgap bill by Friday — if not a shutdown. He predicted Congress could continue passing CRs through the end of the fiscal year.

  • House hard-liners would likely welcome a full-year CR because it would mean automatic spending cuts under the debt ceiling deal.
  • "If you think over the next week, or two weeks, or a month that the United States Congress — House and Senate — is going to be able to agree on 12 spending bills, you've been dipping into your ketamine stash, man," Kennedy said.

Between the lines: Hill leaders met with President Biden on Tuesday to negotiate on the four approps bills that expire at the end of the week.

  • Even if they can make a deal, don't expect many notable energy-related riders to make the cut. That includes House bill provisions to block energy efficiency rules.
  • "I don't expect much in the way of riders at this rate," Bracewell's Liam Donovan told Axios via email. "A functional majority would be having a field day with the LNG pause or the tailpipe rule and at least playing with policy wedges that divide the Dem coalition, but that doesn't seem to be in the cards."

A bipartisan group of House lawmakers wrote leadership last week asking for language in the energy-water title to block the Biden administration's LNG export permits pause.

  • But Senate Republicans acknowledged to Axios that would probably be a stretch.
  • "My understanding is that they want as few riders as possible, but I would be for that one," said Sen. Shelley Moore Capito.

What we're watching: Whether any of the aforementioned money for enriched uranium makes it through via the energy-water bill or a supplemental deal (which feels unlikely these days).

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