Rep. Welch optimistic energy efficiency bill will hit floor

Rep. Peter Welch is optimistic House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) will put energy efficiency legislation on the 2014 agenda.

The Vermont Democrat told The Hill, based on his ongoing conversations with Cantor and the majority leader's staff, all signals point to "real interest" in bringing some form of an energy efficiency bill to the floor early next year.

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"In the aftermath of the shutdown there is renewed interest in having Congress act on a concrete, constructive legislative measure," Welch said on Wednesday.

"None of us have bragging rights about the shutdown. The best thing all of us can do is get things done and energy efficiency is that opportunity for us."

Cantor's office has put out a call to House lawmakers for suggestions on items to place on the 2014 agenda, which is a blank slate.

Republicans received heavy backlash for the 16-day government shutdown in early October — the first one in 17 years.

Welch said Cantor has indicated he wants legislation "that can pass."

In July, Welch introduced legislation with Rep. Cory Gardner (R-Col.) that would cut the federal government's energy bill, which amounts to $6 billion annually.

The bill, H.R. 2689, would increase the government's performance contracting goal to $1 billion in energy savings contracts over five years and encourage federal managers to implement energy and conservation measures.

Welch suggests his bill could win support from both Democrats and Republicans, and that this could serve as a model going forward. 

"If we are successful in getting bipartisan legislation on energy efficiency measures than this is a model we can use for other issues," Welch said.