This was a vote on a motion made by Rep. Broun (R-GA) to recommit (send back to committee) the bill providing additional funding for the development of more energy efficient and environmentally cleaner technologies for cars, trucks and other vehicles manufactured in the U.S. The legislation provided $550 million for this advanced vehicle technology development in 2010, and called for $10 million in increases for each of the following three years.
Rep. Broun’s motion included instructions that would have required the insertion of language preventing the spending of any additional funding authorized by the legislation until all other federal funds previously authorized for similar vehicle energy technology development had been spent. It would have further required the insertion of language preventing any funds authorized by the bill from being spent after a year in which the budget deficit exceeded five hundred billion dollars: The deficit for fiscal year 2010 was projected to exceed that figure.
Rep. Broun, speaking on behalf of his motion, said it was designed “to improve this legislation by allowing it to take effect at a time when our fiscal house is more in order and at a time when no other taxpayer dollars are (available to be) spent on the same activities that are authorized by this bill.” Broun said that all Members agree “that energy independence is a key economic and strategic goal, but of even more vital interest to our economic and strategic prospects as a nation is our ability to show fiscal discipline . . . .”
Broun noted that there were “at least five major funding programs related to advanced vehicle technologies that the Department of Energy has announced just in the past 9 months . . . Additionally, the stimulus bill passed earlier this year allocated to the Department of Energy hundreds of millions of dollars for fuel cell production as well as for the production of high-efficiency passenger vehicles and trucks. Clearly, there is a lot of money out there for programs like this already. Maybe we should look now to take a step backward and remember that we really cannot afford to keep up this level of spending.”
Rep. Gordon (D-TN) led the opposition to the motion. He said he shared Broun’s concerns about the deficit and about duplicating research efforts. Gordon noted that there was already language in the bill requiring the Secretary of Energy to “ensure, to the maximum extent practicable, that (its) activities do not duplicate those of other programs within the (Energy) Department or other relevant research agencies.'' Referring to Broun’s reference to the need to show fiscal restraint, Gordon argued that the bill is designed to combat “another threat that this country faces . . . that of foreign energy cartels.”
He then pointed to the support that the bill has received from a variety of groups including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, the Big Three auto companies, the United Auto Workers, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Sierra Club.
The motion was defeated by a vote of 180-245. One hundred and sixty-six Republicans and fourteen Democrats voted “aye”. Two hundred and thirty-six Democrats and nine Republicans voted “nay”. As a result, the House was able to move immediately to a vote on passage of the bill providing funding for federal vehicle energy and environmental technology development programs.