This was a vote on passage of legislation authorized a total of $6 billion to be spent over two years on initiatives intended to make private homes more energy efficient. The government would provide rebates for such energy efficiency improvements. The rebate would be given to the contractors responsible for the renovations. Those contractors would then be required to pass on the value of that rebate to their customers.
The measure authorized rebates of up to $1,500 for certain installations, such as energy-efficient doors and storm windows. Those who make their homes 20% more energy efficient would be eligible for a rebate of up to $3,000. All of the programs authorized by the bill would expire if the legislation was projected to increase the federal budget deficit.
Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), the chairman of the committee that drafted the bill, urged members to support it: “This legislation, more than anything, is about jobs….These are jobs that won't be outsourced overseas. They are construction jobs in our neighborhoods and our communities…. [The bill] would accomplish this by establishing a rebate program for the installation of energy-efficient home upgrades. These rebates would encourage homeowners to hire contractors to install new, efficient heating and air conditioning, to insulate their homes, and to replace drafty windows and doors. It's an approach that can benefit every contractor in this country, from small independent businesses to contractors associated with large home improvement store chains. “
Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) also praised the legislation: “It will create 168,000 new jobs, especially in the construction sector which has upwards of 25 percent unemployment, and it will increase our energy independence by backing out that oil that we import into our country, moving us closer to this energy independence, which should be the goal of our country, using new energy technologies that make it possible for every consumer to participate in this revolution.”
Rep. Joe Barton urged argued the bill was fiscally irresponsible: “The definition of insanity, Madam Chair, is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. That appears to be what we are doing here today with the Home Star Energy Retrofit Act [H.R. 5019]. It's another chapter in saying one thing, trying to put something out that looks good, feels good, but doesn't really have the substance to back it up….I don't believe we should authorize a $6 billion program without a pay-for or an indication of how we intend to pay for it. I think that's too much, and I think it's bad public policy with a deficit of $1.5 trillion.”
House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) urged members to oppose the bill: “…We're going to authorize $6.6 billion of money that we don't have so that we can caulk homes. Now, I think it's a good idea to caulk your home, to weatherize your home, to make our homes more energy efficient; but we have to remember something: 43 cents of every dollar the federal government spends this year we're going to borrow. And guess who gets to pay that money back? It's going to be our kids and our grandkids.”
The House passed the bill by a vote of 246-161. 234 Democrats and 12 Republicans voted “yea.” 154 Republicans and 7 Democrats voted “nay.” As a result, the House passed legislation authorizing rebates for energy efficient renovations in private residences, including a rebate of up to $3,000 for homeowners who make their houses 20% more energy efficient.