Without Murkowski, Bipartisan Work in Senate Energy Committee Could Stall
We still don’t know the final results of Tuesday’s Republican Senate primary in Alaska (absentee votes still need to be counted), but things don’t look good for Sen. Lisa Murkowski. But a loss by Murkowski could have major implications for the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, where she currently serves as ranking member.
As I noted yesterday, Murkowski (despite her opposition to a number of key energy proposals) has often worked closely with committee chairman Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) to come to bipartisan compromises, most notably on the committee’s comprehensive energy bill, which passed the panel last year. In fact, partly because of Murkowski, the committee is known for working across party lines. If Murkowski loses her primary race, will all of that change?
Politico breaks down the committee politics, noting that Murkowski’s replacement could be a Republican “who may favor a harder line against federal environmental protections and would be less inclined to work with Democrats.”
The next Republican on the seniority list behind Murkowski is Richard Burr, who is in a tough general election fight in North Carolina. Should the Republicans take the Senate and Burr assume the top spot, he would be the first Southerner to lead the panel since Sen. Bennett Johnston (D-La.) in the 1990s.
The remaining GOP members are John Barrasso (Wyo.), Jim Risch (Idaho), John McCain (Ariz.), Jeff Sessions (Ala.) and Bob Corker (Tenn.).
Whoever the top Republican is will very likely be in a much stronger position to affect legislation next year, either as ranking member on a committee with smaller margins (the current breakdown is 13 Democrats to 10 Republicans) or as chairman.