However, a source familiar with the legislative process told The Colorado Observer three weeks ago that Udall’s staff already knew their bill was flawed and was already in the process of rewriting the measure.
The bill that Udall rushed to introduce on April 5 would speed the exportation of liquefied natural gas (LNG).
By beating Gardner’s introduction of a similar bill the following day, Udall’s campaign claimed bragging rights for taking the lead on the issue despite protestations by Gardner’s campaign that the congressman had been working on the legislation since last fall.
“I’ve been working on this for two years,” Udall told the Denver Post.
“I have called for a full-scale study and consideration of LNG exports. With all due respect, there may be somebody else who is the latecomer to this,” Udall said.
One Udall staffer went so far as to publicly flaunt their timing with a tweet to the congressman that said “Good for @CoryGardnerCO for following @MarkUdall2014′s lead on pushing for more natural gas exports.”
But in their zeal to rush the bill’s introduction, Udall’s staff inserted language that instead sent the measure to the Senate Banking Committee where it has languished ever since, allowing Gardner to take the lead in the race to champion natural gas.
“The problem with Udall’s bill is it was stuck in committee, and it was stuck in the wrong committee – the bill had no chance of getting a hearing,” the source said Wednesday.
“Udall knew he had to find some way to get a bill through the Senate, and the only way, in an embarrassing fashion, was to take Cory’s bill and reintroduce it in the Senate,” the source said.
Udall originally hoped to quickly capitalize on his legislation by offering it as an amendment to a Ukraine aid bill moving through the Senate last month, but the Democratic leadership ignored his efforts.
Meanwhile, Gardner’s bill was quickly approved on April 9 by the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on Energy and Power, and was passed by the full committee on Wednesday.
Gardner returned the tweet to Udall’s camp after learning the senator would instead carry the bill he authored: “Thanks @MarkUdall for introducing my #LNGExports bill in the Senate.”
The legislative intention of both Gardner and Udall was to expedite the permitting process to export more liquefied natural gas to World Trade Organizations like Japan and India. Additionally, the move would flood the world market with the U.S. supply and send a political message to Russia, which had threatened to cut off Ukraine’s energy supply.
Udall contends he would drop his own bill in favor of Gardner’s version because of Democratic amendments added to the Republican bill during yesterday’s final markup. Those unrelated amendments would allow for energy efficiency upgrades to federal buildings and schools.
But Udall hasn’t given up hope of beating Gardner’s bill to final passage, and plans to try again attaching the natural energy bill as a rider to legislation next week that would establish a national building code for energy efficiency.