Congressman Paul Tonko (D-NY), member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, released the following statement regarding H.R. 2609, the Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2014. Minutes before midnight, the House passed the legislation last night by a vote of 227-198. The White House has threatened to veto the bill
“In previous years, Congress would work together to craft annual appropriations bills that aimed to responsibly fund our nation’s basic infrastructure, promote innovation, and foster an environment where America remains a leader in research and technology. That is the way it used to work. With this bill, House leadership has slashed investment in our nation’s energy development to its lowest level since 1977 – when the Department of Energy was first created.
“Cuts to energy efficiency and critical programs like ARPA-E lead to no real long-term deficit reduction and only serve to dampen our proud record of American innovation. Similarly, slashing funding to weatherization assistance, which protects our most vulnerable and disadvantaged, shows that Congress has lost its moral compass.
“This bill undermines opportunity and jobs in the Capital Region, puts our environment at risk for future generations, and sets us back in our ultimate goal to create quality jobs and long-term economic stability.
“America is in a global race on clean energy, just as we were during the Space Race post-Sputnik. This time, it’s not us versus the USSR – it’s us versus literally dozens of nations who want to beat us – and are poised to overtake us if we continue to sap investments in American clean energy job markets. As we move forward, we have to ask ourselves: Do we want to win this race? The lack of investment contained in this bill offered by House GOP Leadership answers that question with a resounding ‘NO’.
“It is my hope that House leadership will come to its senses and work with Democrats to make our nation once again aggressive competitors in research development, innovation and technological advancement.”
H.R. 2609 provides funding for the Army Corps of Engineers and the Department of Energy. The House version proposes to fund these agencies at $30.4 billion, $4.1 billion below the President’s FY 14 Budget Request and $2.9 billion, or nearly 10 percent, below the FY 13 enacted level. The bill would:
- Combine the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) with the Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability (OE), cutting funding by 50 percent;
- Reduce the number of homes renovated through the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) by 50 percent in the first year alone;
- Cut funding by 81 percent for the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), which supports high-risk, high-impact energy projects;
- Limit the ability of the Army Corps of Engineers under the Clean Water to protect our water sources;
- Permanently block existing Weatherization Assistance Program authorizations, lowers the maximum income level for eligibility, the maximum assistance per weatherized home, and the maximum allocation allowed for Training and Technical assistance from current levels.
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