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House Democrats tee up vote on climate-focused energy bill next week

Bonnie Cash

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) says the chamber will vote next week on a more-than-900-page energy package billed as a response to climate change.

The bill, unveiled Tuesday, has not had a hearing or gone through the regular legislative process. It would funnel money toward research and development of a number of types of energy while promoting energy efficiency for homes, schools and other buildings.

It comes as the Senate last week resolved a roadblock that halted a spring vote on a similar energy bill proposed by Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.).

Hoyer in a release said the bill “fulfills House Democrats’ promise to invest in the creation of high-paying jobs by making America a global leader in clean energy. Our climate is changing, and we not only need to take dramatic steps to slow the carbon pollution that has driven this climate crisis but we must also seize the economic opportunities that this challenge presents.”

Bringing the quickly drafted legislation to the floor leaves several other climate proposals from House committees by the wayside.

A bill from the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis billed as a road map for battling climate change was introduced in June. And in January, the House Energy and Commerce Committee laid out its own vision for transitioning to clean energy. Both bills would set strict timetables for decarbonizing the economy by 2050.

Tuesday’s bill, the Clean Economy Jobs and Innovation Act, doesn’t offer any similar targets, instead focusing on assisting the industries that could help the U.S. transition to a clean energy economy while seeking to close energy efficiency gaps in buildings across the country.

“Energy is a big deal for us. We had a lot of bills that we wanted to do in the spring, that were energy bills, then obviously the spring fell apart, right? So we didn’t have a spring,” Hoyer told The Hill in a hallway interview, adding the measure was a result of putting “I think 40-plus bills together.”

The legislation would establish more rigorous building codes and bolster energy efficiency requirements and weatherization programs. It includes research and development programs for solar, wind, advanced geothermal energy, hydroelectric power and measures that would reduce carbon pollution at fossil-fuel-generated sources. 

In the transportation sector, the bill seeks to expand the use of electric vehicles, starting an electric vehicle supply equipment rebate program and reauthorizing various clean diesel programs.

It also includes aspects of an earlier environmental justice package from the House Natural Resources Committee, which would add environmental claims to the Civil Rights Act. 

It’s not clear if or when the Senate might take up the energy research and development package considered earlier this year.

Murkowski and Manchin’s bill was barreling toward passage in late February when a disagreement over an unrelated amendment to manage hydrofluorocarbons, a heat-trapping gas in coolants, derailed its progress just as the coronavirus began spreading across the country.

Tuesday’s bill seems likely to pass the Democratic-led House, giving them a vehicle to conference with the Senate if they pass the Murkowski-Manchin legislation.

—Juliegrace Brufke contributed to this report.

Tags Climate change Joe Manchin Lisa Murkowski Renewable energy economy Steny Hoyer

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