On July 10, the House of Representatives passed the Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2014 (H.R. 2609) by a vote of 227-198. This bill, which provides funding for the Department of Energy and the Department of Interior, passed largely along party lines and slashes funding for renewable energy and energy efficiency research by 48 percent and Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) funding by 81 percent. It would reopen the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository that President Obama recently decided to close, and it would cut general funding levels by $2.9 billion from 2013 levels. Unlikely to be well-received by the Democratic majority in the Senate, the White House issued a veto threat should the bill pass both chambers.

During votes over amendments on the night of July 9, Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA) proposed an amendment to eliminate the Department of Energy's entire renewable energy and energy efficiency budget, a cut of $1.5 billion. It is notable that the proposal only cut renewable energy research, while maintaining funding for fossil fuel and nuclear research.

McClintock's amendment was rejected by three fourths of Congress, but did garner 115 supporting votes – a quarter of the House (see the names of Representatives who voted for the amendment here ). Seven of the Representatives who voted to remove the DOE's renewable energy program are members the House Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Caucus.*

Rep. Tom McClintock's amendment was one of many which the House rejected. Only two amendments were accepted: a bipartisan amendment from Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) to boost funding for ARPA-E (which helps fund advanced energy projects), and an amendment from Rep. Tom Reed (R-NY) to increase funding for non-defense environmental cleanup.

The House Energy and Water Bill is one of 12 appropriations bills Congress needs to pass annually to fund federal agencies. The Senate now needs to pass its version of the Energy and Water Appropriations Bill, and then a compromise must be agreed to in a conference committee before the current fiscal year ends October 1.

* Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Bill Posey (R-FL), Candice Miller (R-MI), Michele Bachmann (R-MN), Sam Graves (R-MO), Michael Burgess (R-TX), and Lamar Smith (R-TX)

Author: Laura Small