A release from Senators McCain and Inhofe:
The Senate Armed Services Committee as early as Wednesday may grapple with a largely partisan skirmish over a Republican effort to stymie the Obama military’s green energy agenda.
Panel ranking member John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) are teaming up to try to trump military green funding during the panel’s closed-door consideration of defense authorization legislation.
“Adopting a quote green agenda for national defense of course is a terrible misplacement of priorities,” McCain told reporters Tuesday. “Priorities first is the defense of the nation, not a green agenda.”
McCain and Inhofe — who in the past have been divided on the Arizona senator’s support for a cap-and-trade program — agree that money should be better spent in the face of military budget cuts.
Inhofe told POLITICO on Monday that he is working on at least one amendment similar to House-passed language that would block the Pentagon from spending money on alternative fuels that cost more than petroleum-based fuels.
But Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) — who appeared unaware of a GOP effort on the issue before being questioned by POLITICO on Tuesday — defended military green spending.
“It’s also a security issue because the military spends a huge amount of blood and treasure getting the fuel to the battlefield, and we should try to find alternative ways of reducing that dependence on that kind of fuel,” he said.
And Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) — an Armed Services member who has sided at times with the GOP on energy issues — offered a possible preview of what could be a largely party-line stalemate.
“They’re going to be buying more fossil fuels. That says it all,” he said Tuesday when asked about the Republican effort. “It seems to me what we need to be doing is finding ways to increase our capacity to use green energy, to use less fossil fuels as a nation. And if that’s the case, as a national priority it seems to be right now, that ought to apply to the military as well.”
House Republicans have approved several bills this Congress that would nix military clean fuels spending or exempt the Pentagon from a five-year-old clean fuels requirement.
The White House also mentioned the issue in a long list of items included in a veto threat against the $642 billion defense budget that the House approved Friday.
The Senate committee is expected to wrap up the closed-door markup late Thursday.