Senate appropriators want to begin moving energy and environment spending bills to the floor for votes by next month free of "controversial" riders, lawmakers say.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., wants the appropriation committee to move bills to the floor by mid-April, Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., said Wednesday.
Alexander is the chairman of the Appropriations Committee's subcommittee on energy and water development. His panel held a hearing Wednesday on the Energy Department's proposed budget, the subcommittee's third hearing Wednesday on President Obama's fiscal 2017 budget request.
Alexander said he wants to meet McConnell's request by passing clean bills, in which "controversial riders will not be added."
He said any lawmaker who wishes to add any controversial measure can wait for floor debate and see if they have the 60 votes necessary for passage in the Senate.
"They can offer on the floor, or they can run for the House of Representatives," Alexander said. "That's the two ways to do that."
But the biggest obstacle to passing spending bills out of appropriations will be the concerns that lawmakers from both parties have with the administration's budget.
Both Alexander and top Democrat Dianne Feinstein of California described concerns they have in approving the new 2017 budget proposal.
Feinstein pointed out that "one big obstacle" is the administration's choice to zero out the budget for uranium cleanup, which is a major program for cleaning up the nation's mining facilities.
An even bigger concern is the proposed 25 percent cut to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers budget, which she called the government's only infrastructure developer and important to meeting the problems of climate change.
She said the president's final budget offers Congress a "Hobson's choice," in which only one option is available to choose from, and that option is not the best.