(H.R. 5019) On an amendment to a home energy efficiency bill that would eliminate a loan program providing loans for home energy efficiency improvements, eliminate a provision providing $12 million for advertising home energy efficiency programs to the public, and require all the programs authorized by the bill to expire if they were projected to increase the federal budget deficit.
This was a vote on a motion to recommit with instructions by Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) on a bill authorizing rebates for energy efficient renovations in private residences. A motion to recommit with instructions is the minority's last chance to make substantive changes to a bill before a final up-or-down vote on the measure. If successful, the motion sends the legislation back to committee with instructions to amend the legislation as specified.
Barton’s motion to recommit required the legislation to expire if it were projected to increase budget deficits. In addition, it eliminated the Home Star Energy Efficiency Loan Program, which would have provided loans to individuals who want to make their homes more energy efficient, but cannot afford the needed renovations. In addition, the motion to recommit eliminated $12 million in funding for a “public education campaign” intended to advertise the bill’s home energy efficiency initiatives (including rebates and loans) to the public. Finally, the motion would have disqualified homeowners from participating in these initiatives if their gross annual income exceeded $250,000.
Barton’s motion to recommit also contained two provisions that were politically difficult for Democrats to oppose. It barred the bill’s funds from being used for gambling, and prohibited any of the programs funded by the bill from employing sex offenders. According to an Associated Press story:
“Waxman said Republicans picked up Democratic votes for that final GOP motion - 178 of 245 voting Democrats backed it - by including several ‘gimmicks’ that could be used against lawmakers in future elections, such as a provision that contractors in the program must ensure that they don't have sexual predators on their payroll.”
The Atlanta Journal Constitution’s Jamie Dupree noted: “When the vote started, Democrats voted against the plan. But it became clear that Republicans were going to win this procedural vote, and so dozens and dozens of Democrats then changed sides, to the Yes column.”
Barton urged support for his motion to recommit: “…The substantive parts of the motion to recommit are pretty straightforward. It would sunset the legislation if there is a negative net effect on the Federal budget deficit….It strikes the $12 million EPA public information campaign. As I pointed out in my floor statement, bees know where the honey is, bank robbers know where the bank is, teenage boys know where the teenage girls are, the public will know how to get this money.”
Rep. Bob Latta (R-OH) also urged support for the motion to recommit: “ This simply is not the time for a new $6.6 billion government program. That is why…I urge you to support the motion to recommit. It ensures fiscal responsibility and ensures taxpayer dollars will be spent wisely.”
Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), the chairman of the committee that drafted the bill, urged members to reject Barton’s motion to recommit: “It [the motion to recommit] undermines the basic structure of the bill….It eliminates the loan program. It eliminates the public education campaign. It creates…burdensome income thresholds as well.”
The House agreed to Barton’s motion to recommit by a vote of 346-68. 178 Democrats and 168 Republicans voted “yea.” 67 Democrats – including most progressives – and 1 Republican voted “nay.” As a result, the House voted to eliminate a loan program providing loans for home energy efficiency improvements, eliminate a provision providing $12 million for advertising home energy efficiency programs to the public, and require all the programs authorized by the bill to expire if they were projected to increase the federal budget deficit.