The Senate failed to advance an energy bill in its first substantive vote of the lame duck session on Thursday, just before the White House threatened to veto the bill.
The upper chamber failed to find the 60 votes required to move the legislation, the American Energy and Conservation Act, and instead voted 51-47 in a failed attempt to move it toward passage on the Senate floor. It could come up again, but the abreviated schedule of the lame duck and the approaching holidays makes it unlikely.
The White House issued a veto threat soon after the vote failed, and said it opposes the legislation because it would make significant changes to an existing law governing revenue sharing between the states and the federal government from offshore energy production.
The bill would increase the limited amount of revenues the Gulf states receive under a Bush-era law called the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act of 2006, or GOMESA, which provides a large chunk of money dedicated to land and water restoration of the gulf.
The changes have been fought over for years, but to no avail due to mainly Democratic oppostion, although some Democrats like former Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., had favored it.
This latest bill, introduced by Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., tried to offer sweetners by including incentives for offshore wind farms that would benefit states as far away from the gulf as Maine, Cassidy said.
But the Obama administration paid those incentives little mind in vowing to veto the bill if passed.
"The bill would, among other things, change existing revenue sharing laws to increase the amount that certain states and counties would receive from energy production on federal lands and waters, thereby reducing the fair return on the development of these minerals to taxpayers across the country for their shared resources," a statement by the Office of Management and Budget read. The bill "would have significant and long-term costs to the Federal Treasury."
The White House statement explained that under GOMESA, the revenue sharing payments to states and counties is set to "dramatically" increase, anyway, in fiscal year 2018. For that reason, the White House said, it's not necessary to pass this bill.
"If the President were presented with S. 3110, his senior advisors would recommend he veto the bill," the White House statement read.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce had been vying for the bill to pass, saying in a "key vote" letter sent to senators Thursday ahead of the vote that the bill would advance energy production.