House Republicans on Thursday passed a sprawling partisan energy plan, the first funding bill approved on the floor since the lower chamber ousted its Speaker more than three weeks ago.
The measure passed in 210-199 vote Thursday afternoon, with just one Republican no vote. It is only the second piece of legislation to cross the floor after the House installed Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) on Wednesday.
“This is the first step in getting our appropriations done,” Johnson said shortly after passage. “Yesterday, I promised we were going to get back to work for the American people and today we proved it.”
The bill cuts more than $5 billion in spending that was passed as part of Democrats’ signature climate, tax and health care bill — which was approved without GOP support last year.
The legislation is unlikely to become law, as the White House has threatened to veto it, but it represents the House Republican position on energy- and water-related issues as they negotiate 2024 funding with the Democrat-led Senate and the White House.
Rep. Ken Buck (Colo.) was the only Republican to vote with Democrats against the measure. Buck spokesperson Victoria Marshall said in an email that the congressman voted no because he had wanted funding in the bill to remain at 2019 levels.
Among other provisions, the legislation passed by the House on Thursday targets a program that gives rebates to consumers who purchase electric appliances.
It would also cut a program in the climate bill aimed at helping state and local governments adopt climate-friendly building codes.
Ahead of the bill’s passage, Rep. Chuck Fleischmann (R-Tenn.), who heads the subcommittee tasked with crafting the funding bill, defended the measure on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, as making “America safer, more energy secure and increases our global economic competitiveness.”
He added that Republicans “are investing in America while cutting billions in wasteful, unnecessary, and inflationary spending.”
On the other hand, when it threatened to veto the bill this month, the White House said that the climate cuts would “result in unacceptable harm to clean energy and energy efficiency initiatives that lower energy costs and critical investments in rural America.”
The bill would fund the Energy Department, providing about 8 percent more than last year for the department’s nuclear weapons agency.
But the GOP is also eyeing sharp cuts to renewable energy and energy efficiency.
The measure itself would also cut the department’s Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Office by about $466 million, or 13 percent compared with what it was given in last year’s appropriations bill, drawing more criticism from Democrats.
And Republicans are looking at even greater cuts, as a rule allowing for the vote’s consideration would cut an additional $1 billion from the office — bringing the total cuts for the office to about 42 percent.
“This office researches and develops manufacturing, building, energy management, and weatherization technologies that are critical to our nation’s growth and resilience,” Rep. Rosa DeLauro (Conn.), a Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, said on the floor this week. “That is over a billion dollars that will not be invested in our economic, energy, and climate future.”
It would also rescind water regulations implemented by the Biden administration.
The bill is one of 12 annual funding bills House Republicans have crafted over the past several months. The party, which had already passed four partisan funding bills prior to October, now aims to pass the remaining seven funding bills in the coming weeks, as Republicans seek to strengthen their hand in eventual spending talks with the Democratic-led Senate.
In a letter to GOP colleagues ahead of securing the top gavel, Johnson offered a plan for the conference to pass its remaining funding bills by mid-November, while proposing another stopgap funding bill through the end of the year in the likely event one is needed.
Updated: 6:11 p.m.