$30B energy, water spending bill passes House, 227-198

The House late Wednesday approved the third of 12 annual spending bills for 2014, passing the Department of Energy (DOE) and water projects spending bill in a 227-198 vote.

Democrats have argued throughout the week that the $30.4 billion spending bill cuts too deeply into renewable energy and science research. Those complaints led all but eight Democrats to oppose the bill in the final vote.

President Obama has also threatened to veto the bill because of these cuts, and Senate consideration of a bill that spends more means the House version is not likely to survive the upper chamber. Still, House passage allows Republicans to set down a marker on their priorities if and when a final 2014 spending agreement is reached.

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Republicans admitted that the legislation focuses on what they see as the nation's top priorities — maintaining the U.S. nuclear stockpile and maintaining U.S. waterways. But even national security-related funding is cut by nearly $400 million compared to 2013 levels.

Nonsecurity funding is cut even more, by $2.5 billion. That includes a $100 million cut to civil works programs in the Army Corps of Engineers, another $100 million cut to the Department of the Interior and the Bureau of Reclamation, and a $2.1 billion cut to the Department of Energy.

Democrats took several shots during the week at restoring that funding, but they were rejected by the Republican majority. In particular, Democrats sought to restore funding to the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) program, which was gutted by an 81 percent cut to just $50 million in 2014.

The House did agree to one amendment from Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) to restore $20 million to ARPA-E, but other proposals failed.

Republicans also took a few shots at reducing spending further than the 9 percent cut already in the bill. One of these was from Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.) to save $1.5 billion by eliminating the DOE's renewable energy program, but the House defeated that proposal.

Near the end of the debate, dozens of funding limitation proposals were made, many of which were included in the bill. One of these, from Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Texas), would prohibit the DOE from enforcing federal light bulb standards, language that was also included in the 2013 spending bill.

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