House approves 2012 Department of Energy funding bill

The bill provides $30.6 billion for DOE and other related agencies, about $1 billion less than FY 2011 funding levels.

As has been the case with other spending bills, the energy and water bill survived several attempts by efforts by Democrats to increase funding for various energy projects, but also survived Republican attempts to cut spending further. The House rejected several of these Republican amendments on Friday, including one from Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) that would have cut another $1.5 billion from the bill.

Several Republicans joined Democrats to reject a smaller cut of $300 million, as well as other proposals to gut funding from energy efficiency research at the Department of Energy. Republicans also joined most Democrats in rejecting a cut of several hundred million dollars to the Department of Energy's fossil fuel research program, which Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) described as a subsidy to big oil companies that Democrats have been attacking.

A few dozen Republicans even voted against language preventing funds in the bill from being spent on a kids section of the department's website.

Over the several days of considering the bill, members did approve amendments that block funding for energy efficiency research in China, increase solar energy R&D funding by $10 million and prohibit salaries for recess-appointed officials at the department until they are confirmed by the Senate.

Members also approved language defunding a 2007 law that sets light bulb standards, which Republicans have attacked as a government overreach.

On Thursday, Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.) noted that the bill requires the sale of $500 million worth of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, and that funds from this sale go into the general treasury. McClintock called this a "scandal," but House Republicans did not allow any amendments to be considered striking this language.

Republicans and Democrats also clashed on Thursday over language in the bill that would move $1 billion in unobligated funds for high-speed rail to a fund to help clean up damages done by river and coastal flooding. While Democrats railed against this language for nearly two hours, there was again no amendment considered to strike or alter this language.