House rejects cuts to DOE energy efficiency programs

The House on Wednesday rejected 110-310 a proposal to eliminate all funding for Department of Energy programs to promote energy efficiency and renewable energy. 

Rep. Bradley Byrne's (R-Ala.) amendment to the fiscal 2015 Energy-Water appropriations bill would cut all $1.7 billion in funding for energy efficiency and renewable energy efforts.

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Byrne said the money would be better used toward reducing the deficit.

"The reason we have a deficit is because we're spending money we don't have," Byrne said. "We've got to start prioritizing our spending. And this is one place we can start."

But Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho), the chairman of the House Energy-Water Appropriations subcommittee, argued the government should invest in renewable energy.

"I like renewable energies. I think they're cute. They provide a small portion of our overall energy demand and I don't see that increasing a whole lot," Simpson said. "But they are going to be a very important part of an overall energy strategy."

The Energy-Water appropriations bill is being considered under a process that allows members to offer an unlimited number of amendments. Passage of the bill is not expected until Thursday.