Source: TheHill.com | Cristina Marcos with Rebecca Shabad | May 1, 2105
The House passed its second 2016 appropriations bill on Friday, this time to fund the Department of Energy and water infrastructure projects.
Passed 240-177 along party lines, the measure would provide $35.4 billion for the Army Corps of Engineers, Department of Energy and nuclear weapons programs.
The measure provides $1.2 billion more than the current enacted spending level, but $633 million less than what the Obama administration requested.
Friday’s vote marked the second passage of a fiscal 2016 appropriations bill in as many days. The House passed its first 2016 spending bill of the year Thursday evening that would provide $77 billion for the Department of Veterans Affairs and military construction projects.
The bill would also support the Yucca Mountain nuclear repository and deny an Obama administration proposal for non-Yucca nuclear waste activities. In total, the measure provides $150 million for the Nuclear Waste Disposal Program. Members rejected by voice vote an amendment from Rep. Joe Heck (R-Nev.) to eliminate all funding in the bill for Yucca Mountain.
President Obama issued a veto threat against the legislation, warning it “drastically underfunds” energy programs.
The Obama administration also objected to a provision in the bill that prohibits the Army Corps of Engineers from enforcing its ban on guns at water resources development projects.
Lawmakers considered the legislation under a freewheeling process that allowed an unlimited number of amendments, with debate continuing past midnight into Friday morning.
The House adopted an amendment from Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Texas) late Thursday night that would prohibit the use of funds to enforce energy efficiency standards for incandescent light bulbs. The Texan likened the energy conservation measure to an issue of individual liberty.
“We should not be forcing these light bulbs on the American public,” Burgess said. “The bottom line is the federal government has no business taking away the freedom of Americans to choose what bulbs to put in their homes.”
But Democrats said that energy-efficient bulbs cost less in the long run.
“They are the same as the old bulbs, except they last longer, use less electricity and save consumers money,” said Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio).
The House also adopted, by voice vote, an amendment from Rep. Brian Babin (R-Texas) that would prohibit funds used for nuclear nonproliferation from going to Iran unless the country is required to stop pursuing and developing nuclear weapons.