House votes to block enforcement of energy efficient light bulb standards

The House approved two amendments to a 2013 spending bill late Tuesday night that would prohibit the government from enforcing federal light bulb standards that Republicans say are too intrusive.

In a voice vote, the House approved an amendment to the Energy and Water spending bill for 2013 that would prevent the Department of Energy from spending money to enforce a 2007 law that sets bulb efficiency standards. The law bans the sale of 100 watt incandescent bulbs and will ban the sale of 75 watt traditional bulbs in July 2013.

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This year, like last year, the amendment was sponsored by Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Texas), who said the federal government should not be in the business of requiring certain light bulbs to be used.

"We shouldn't be making these decisions for the American people," Burgess said on the House floor. Burgess added that his amendment was approved last year and signed into law by President Obama, after which the House quickly passed his amendment again.

The language was subject to a brief debate in which Rep. Pete Visclosky (D-Ind.) said he opposed the language because it could hurt U.S. companies making bulbs that comply with the standards.

"The only benefit to this amendment is to allow foreign manufacturers who may not feel a similar obligation to export noncompliant light bulbs that will not only harm the investments made by U.S. companies but place at risk U.S. manufacturing jobs associated with making compliant bulbs," he said.

The House also approved an amendment from Rep. Chip Cravaack (R-Minn.) that would prevent the Department of Energy from spending money to enforce current language that requires universities and other recipients of department grants of $1 million or more to replace all their bulbs with energy-efficient bulbs.

The House accepted that language by voice vote.