This was a vote on an amendment by Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT) that would have increased funding by $491 million for renewable energy (such as wind and solar energy) research and development, and also would have cut $491 million from nuclear weapons programs. This amendment was offered to legislation providing annual funding for Energy Department programs and the Army Corps of Engineers in fiscal year 2012.
Welch urged support for his amendment: “In Burlington, Vermont, we had a program through this title that helped a community market install 136 solar panels on the roof of the city market that generated 31 kilowatts of power. I mean, that's not going to save the world, but it created jobs. It reduced their costs. And it was local, local people doing it….So the real question that is before us is: Do we want to promote energy efficiency at the local level in all the various ways people can come up with to save money when we know that in your district or mine, Republican, Democrat, or independent, we've got out-of-work contractors, we've got homeowners who want to save money, and we've got manufacturers who want to sell their goods? So I urge the body to consider favorably the amendment that is before you.”
Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ) opposed Welch’s amendment: “I rise in opposition to the amendment because this amendment decreases funding for weapons activities by $491 million in order to increase, as we heard, the Energy Efficiency and Renewable account. Modernization of the nuclear complex is a critical national priority and must be funded, and that doesn't matter whether it's the Obama administration or the Bush administration. All of our administrations are working to make sure that we have a nuclear stockpile that is safe, reliable, and verifiable. With years of stagnant funding, we have put off long enough the investments that are needed to sustain our nuclear capabilities into the future. The funding in our bill for weapons activities is both now, as a result, timely and urgent.”
The House rejected Welch’s amendment by a vote of 123-300. Voting “yea” were 120 Democrats—including a majority of progressives--and 3 Republicans. 234 Republicans and 66 Democrats voted “nay.” As a result, the House rejected an amendment that would have increased funding by $491 million for renewable energy (such as wind and solar energy) research and development, but would have cut $491 million from nuclear weapons programs.