July 15, 2024

G.O.P. Bid to Void Light Bulb Law Fails

“The 2010 elections demonstrated that Americans are fed up with government intrusion,” Representative Joe Barton, a Texas Republican who proposed the repeal, said in a debate on Monday. “The federal government has crept so deep into our lives that federal agencies now determine what kind of light bulbs the American people are allowed to purchase.”

But Democrats, despite being in the minority in the House, were able to defeat the repeal on a vote of 233 to 193 because the measure was brought up under rules that require a two-thirds majority for passage.

The Democratic whip, Steny Hoyer of Maryland, said Republicans were wrong to propose the repeal at a time when Congress should be focusing on creating jobs and on the debt-limit negotiations. “By bringing misguided bills like this one to the floor instead of a comprehensive jobs plan, it is clear that House Republicans are still in the dark,” Mr. Hoyer said in a statement titled “Not the Brightest Idea.”

The first stage of the standards, which will be phased in from Jan. 1 through 2014, requires bulbs to be 25 to 30 percent more efficient. The second stage could require bulbs to be 60 percent more efficient by 2020. The law includes exceptions for specialty lights, like candelabra lamps, three-way bulbs and black lights.

The restrictions could eliminate the familiar incandescent bulbs, which have used essentially the same technology since Thomas Alva Edison invented them.

Republicans have also said the new types of bulbs are too expensive. Prices range from about $1.50 for a halogen incandescent to $20 for light-emitting diode, or LED, bulbs, which are supposed to last 10 years. Regular bulbs today cost about 35 cents.

Democrats countered that the higher cost of the new bulbs would be offset by savings on the energy bills of consumers and cited Congressional testimony from Kathleen Hogan, the Energy Department’s deputy assistant secretary for energy efficiency. Using the new bulbs could save households about $50 a year by 2015, Ms. Hogan said. Nationally, consumer savings could be $6 billion a year.

The standards were part of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, a broad update of the country’s energy policy signed into law by President George W. Bush. Thirty-six House Republicans voted for the standards in an amendment offered by Representative Fred Upton, Republican of Michigan.

“This common-sense, bipartisan approach partners with American industry to save energy as well as help foster the creation of new domestic manufacturing jobs,” Mr. Upton said in a December 2007 statement. He is now chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Mr. Upton has removed the old statement from his Web site and posted a new one that says, “The public response on this issue is a clear signal that markets — not governments — should be driving technological advancements.”

Seventeen Republicans who voted for the original law ended up voting for repeal of the standards on Tuesday.

When Congress acted in 2007, many people assumed the incandescent bulb was on its way out. But electric companies have since invested in new technologies that increase bulb efficiency.

Many industry groups, including the National Electrical Manufacturers Association and General Electric, have come out in opposition to the repeal.

Republicans, however, contended that the new standards amounted to a de-facto ban of incandescent bulbs.

“If we don’t pass this bill, we might as well turn out the lights; the party is over for the traditional incandescent light bulb,” said Representative Ted Poe, Republican of Texas.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=b1cc74fb6dc4d3e36db5477da51ef6a5

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