H.R. 3585, the Solar Technology Roadmap Act, was designed to identify and plan for solar technology needs, and to provide $2.2 billion over five years to schools and laboratories for solar research and development. As with most other legislation the House considers, it first had to approve a resolution or “rule” setting the terms for debating the bill. These rules had become contentious matters. The Republican minority had been complaining during the congressional session that the Democratic majority was placing restrictions on many of these rules that significantly curtailed the ability of Members to offer amendments.
As was the case with those other rules, the rule for H.R. 3585 limited the number of amendments that could be offered during the formal debate of the measure. This was on a vote on approving the rule.
Rep. Polis (D-CO) was leading the effort on behalf of the rule and supported the motion to bring it to an immediate vote. He said the Congress had previously not supported “the small businesses, the technology, and the policies that could have and should have changed our nation's energy outlook years ago.”
Rep. Foxx (R-NC) was leading the opposition to the rule. She argued that it “does not allow for many of the amendments my colleagues on both sides of the aisle (have) presented . . . .” Foxx also said: “The money that Speaker Pelosi (D-CA) and the Obama administration want to authorize today is all borrowed money . . . We do not have this money. Our constituents do not have this money and the federal government does not have this money.”
Rep. Andrews (D-NJ), arguing against the complaint of the Republicans that that had not been permitted to participate in the development of H.R. 3585 said that he counted “29 suggestions made by the (Republican) minority which are included in this underlying legislation . . . . ” He also noted that there were 25 other suggested changes made by the Republicans that the Democrats had agreed to add to the bill during its formal consideration.
Rep. Duncan (R-TN) also expressed the view of many Republicans that H.R. 3585 provided for “multibillion-dollar waste”. He said it contained a “2.2 billion subsidy for the solar power industry and for the solar bureaucracy, but that solar energy “has received massive subsidies, with very little progress, ever since the Carter administration.”
The rule was approved by a vote of 241-178. Two hundred and forty Democrats and one Republican voted “aye”. One hundred and seventy Republicans and eight Democrats voted “nay”. As a result, the House was able to debate the Solar Technology Roadmap Act.