This was a vote on an amendment by Rep. Scott Garrett (R-NJ) that would have cut $500 million from renewable energy research and development programs. This amendment was offered to legislation providing annual funding for Energy Department programs and the Army Corps of Engineers in fiscal year 2012.
Garrett urged support for his amendment: “…Time and time again, federal energy programs have failed to live up to their potential. These federal programs have allowed the government to basically play venture capitalists, if you will, and they do so not with their own money. Not at all. They do it with taxpayer moneys. And despite the little return on their investment, they have little choice in making these investments….For example…the American people are being asked by their government to invest literally millions to promote something called `advanced solid-state lighting.' What is that? It's a technology that even its supporters can see is far too expensive to compete in today's marketplace. So does this sound like something that an intelligent investor would do? I think not. But only members of Congress who are spending other people's money would do so…. So to conclude, considering the precarious state of our economy and the fiscal condition of this country, the government can no longer invest in some of these extremely risky and unproven projects without regard to loss and expense. Government can no longer play the role of that reckless investor. We must eliminate the waste where it exists and encourage the federal government to spend the American public's money in a wise and prudent manner.”
Rep. Peter Visclosky (D-IN) responded: “The gentleman [Rep. Garrett] mentioned advanced solid-state lighting. It is my understanding that Philips has indicated that a small investment in manufacturing technology to improve the mechanisms as far as the construction and manufacturing of these light bulbs would allow them to bring back jobs that are currently outsourced overseas.”
Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ) also opposed Garrett’s amendment: “…We have cut Energy and Water [the Energy Department and Army Corps of Engineers funding bill] back to approximately the 2006 level [spending levels enacted in 2006]….I believe we have made the tough choices. We've reviewed all accounts. We've put at the pinnacle, of course, our responsibility for national security, national defense, and the weapons program and the nuclear navy, the next class of Ohio ballistic submarines, and also made substantial investments in the Army Corps of Engineers. I am reluctant to oppose this amendment, but I think we've made the tough choices. I urge members to oppose the amendment.”
The House rejected Garrett’s amendment by a vote of 149-274. Voting “yea” were 146 Republicans and 3 Democrats. 183 Democrats and 91 Republicans voted “nay.” As a result, the House rejected an amendment that would have cut $500 million from renewable energy research and development programs.