House approves $32 billion Energy and Water spending bill

The House approved a $32 billion Energy and Water spending bill that increases spending in 2013 above current levels, and includes some amendments that signal House GOP opposition to the Obama administration in several areas.

Members voted 255-165 in favor of the bill, and had the support of 48 Democrats. The bill, H.R. 5325, is the second 2013 spending bill approved by the House — it approved a Veterans Affairs bill in late May.

ADVERTISEMENT
Despite spending $87.5 million more than current year levels, the Obama administration has said it would veto the bill, since it's part of a Republican plan to spend $19 billion less in 2013 discretionary accounts than was agreed last year. The administration said last week that increases in the bill would have to be offset by unacceptable and deeper spending cuts elsewhere.

As approved by the House, the bill also includes several policy riders the Obama administration might also find objectionable.

In an overwhelming 326-81 vote, members approved language giving the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) another $10 million. That vote was aimed at pushing back at what both parties said is a deliberate attempt to slow-walk an NRC permitting decision allowing the use of Yucca Mountain as a nuclear waste disposal site.

By voice vote, the House approved language that would prevent the Department of Energy from using any funds in the bill to enforce federal lightbulb standards, a perennial complaint that Republicans raise when this spending bill comes up.

But the amendment debate also revealed a deep split within the Republican party about the extent to which they should be cutting federal spending. Many senior Republicans argued that the bill makes "cuts," although the bill can only be seen as a cut in light of the Obama administration's request for nearly $1 billion more.

Several newer GOP members of the House pointed out that the bill would spend $87.5 million more next year, and offered more than $6 billion in proposed spending cuts. But all of these were turned away, most in votes that severely split the GOP.

In one vote, for example, Republicans voted 125-110 in favor of a $3.1 billion cut to the bill. Every voting Democrat voted against it, allowing it to be defeated by the Democrats and roughly half of the GOP.

With the Energy and Water bill out of the way, the House was already turning its attention to the third spending bill of the year, one funding the Department of Homeland Security.

The Senate has yet to act on any spending bill for 2013.