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Weber Opposes Democrats' Massive and Misguided Energy Package

Sep 21, 2020
Press Release

Today, Subcommittee on Energy Ranking Member Randy Weber of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee opposed H.R. 4447, the Clean Economy Jobs and Innovation Act at a House Committee on Rules Markup. Read the full text of his statement below:

Thank you, Chairman McGovern and Ranking Member Cole. As Ranking Member of the Energy Subcommittee of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, I am here this afternoon to testify on behalf of my Science Committee Republican colleagues on our opposition to H.R. 4447, the Clean Economy Jobs and Innovation Act. 

H.R. 4447 includes across-the-board increases in funding for the Department of Energy’s applied energy programs – with more than $35 billion dollars in spending by 2025. 

Many of the clean energy technologies this bill focuses on have successfully matured into competitive renewable energy industries. Using limited federal research funds to further prop up today’s industries may have short term payoffs, but it’s not a winning strategy for America. 

It will not provide viable long-term solutions to global climate change nor significantly strengthen the United States’ leadership in clean energy technologies for the next generation. 

Science Committee Republicans support an all-of-the-above-energy-strategy with targeted investment in clean energy technologies. This means supporting basic and early-stage research where American industry lacks the means or incentive to step in, addressing the complex needs of the electric grid of the future, and focusing on the highest-risk, highest-reward projects, like those funded by DOE’s ARPA-E program. 

But an all-of-the-above energy strategy is not actually helped by providing substantial increases in funding for every applied energy office at DOE—a significant priority of H.R. 4447.  With our national debt at $26 trillion and rising, we cannot afford to grow every R&D program in perpetuity. It’s our responsibility to invest in R&D where it matters most. 

By not including Office of Science legislation in H.R. 4447, Democrats have shown that they aren’t interested in developing the new technologies necessary to fight climate change. Instead, they are paying lip service to clean energy while picking winners and losers among existing industries. Worse, they’ve shown that that that they fundamentally misunderstand the challenges facing the U.S. energy sector and research enterprise. 

DOE’s Office of Science represents more than half of the Department’s entire civilian federal R&D portfolio, and for good reason. 

While DOE’s applied energy offices play an important role in improving the efficiency of various energy subsectors, discoveries made through the Office of Science are the driving force behind the development of next-generation energy technologies. 

The way we invest in the future is by supporting basic research. It’s the only way to move forward. Throwing more money at existing industries isn’t going to cut it. If we are serious about climate change, economic growth, and U.S. leadership in science and technology, then we should be equally serious about our support for the Office of Science.

Historically, the Office of Science has received strong bipartisan support from the Science Committee. Last Congress, the committee passed H.R. 589, the Department of Energy Research and Innovation Act, landmark legislation that authorized the Office of Science and laid the groundwork for revitalizing U.S. global competitiveness in science and technology. 

This Congress, Science Committee Republicans took significant steps to build on this success by supporting Ranking Member Lucas’ bill, H.R. 5685, the Securing American Leadership in Science and Technology Act. This bipartisan legislation would double funding for the Office of Science while supporting key issues like technology transfer, research infrastructure at the national labs, workforce development, and international research partnerships. 

By contrast, Science Committee Democrats have largely ignored this area of agreement and have worked almost exclusively on providing funding increases for DOE’s applied energy programs, with an excessive focus on DOE’s well-funded Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE). This bill is the end product of that misguided approach.

I’d like to support my Republican colleague’s observations that while H.R. 4447 does include some bipartisan provisions, it is not a bipartisan product. This bill was drafted without Republican input and includes several partisan Science Committee bills as well as provisions that have had little to no legislative consideration. 

Vetting bills through the Committee system with regular order gives Members time to fully consider and improve the policy together. To post a 900-page, $135 billion dollar bill one week and have it on the floor the next is no way to legislate. With so much at stake, we owe to the American people to work together on productive paths forward. 

Still, it’s not too late to get things done. We should set aside this partisan messaging exercise and work together to move separately, on suspension, bipartisan clean energy products which all have close Senate companions and strong bipartisan Senate interest. These include H.R. 4091, the ARPA-E Reauthorization Act, H.R. 5374, the Advanced Geothermal Research and Development Act, and H.R. 2986, the BEST Act.

It is my hope that we can put aside this bloated and misguided bill and return to working together to accomplish our bipartisan legislative goals for clean energy in the 116th Congress.  

116th Congress