Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT) is the chief sponsor of H.R. 5019, the Home Star Energy Retrofit Act, which passed the House on Thursday, 246-161. Here is one of his floor statements, starting on page H3219 of The Congressional Record. In his remarks, he cites the support of NAM President John Engler and former Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham, who had an op-ed published in Thursday’s The Hill, “Home Star builds bipartisanship, energy savings.”
WELCH: Madam Chair, a great nation does not shrink from its challenges. It faces them directly. We face serious challenges to create jobs in a tough economy, to move away from the dirty fuels of the 19th century into the cleaner fuels of the 21st, and using less fuel rather than more is a solid step that’s going to help us accomplish that. We need to create manufacturing jobs in this country, where we’re losing them by the day. Home Star does all three.
It’s going to put our contractors back to work. There’s a 25 percent unemployment rate. It’s going to allow us to use less fuel rather than more. Vermonters are cheap. They like that. I think that’s something that homeowners around the country will like. And it’s going to be 90 percent produced–all the things used in Home Star, 90 percent are produced and manufactured in the United States of America.
So this is a partnership between the government, that will help a homeowner with the upfront cost with a point-of-sale rebate, and our retailers, our homebuilders, and our manufacturers. So we’re going to be putting America back to work and addressing these challenges of creating jobs and clean energy.
If we’re going to be successful in this challenge and others, we really should be doing them on a bipartisan basis. And this is a way of showing how it can be done. With the leadership of Mr. Ehlers, we have bipartisan support. But we have others.
Mr. Barton, in the committee, made very constructive suggestions on how we can improve this bill, and they were incorporated in it: A specific number about how much we’re going to spend, not open-ended. A sunset, so we can kick the tires after a few years and see how the program is working. Former Michigan Governor, a Republican, John Engler, a strong endorser. Former Secretary of Energy in the Bush administration, Spencer Abraham, fully endorsing this. Why? Because it’s practical. It’s common sense. It’s a partnership between the public and the private sector.
There’s been a concern raised about spending, and rightly so. This bill must be paid for. All of us who support this legislation acknowledge that. And we will have to vote on how exactly we’re going to have this paid for. And we will. But let’s keep in mind that there is a difference between a wise investment and wasteful spending.
When you have a bill that’s going to put our 25 percent unemployment rate folks back to work and it’s going to allow homeowners to save money, not just this year but next year and the year after and the year after that, that’s a wise expenditure of money, where we have our homeowners putting some of their money down and getting some taxpayer help to get the job done. Home Star is that solid investment that is going to achieve that hat trick of energy savings for the homeowner, of moving towards a cleaner environment, and of creating jobs here at home.
It was good debate Thursday, with Republicans focusing mostly on the additional spending by the federal government. Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX), ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, outlined his objections in a floor statement that starts on page H3217.
In the end, one concedes there wasn’t much bipartisanship. Twelve Republicans voted for the bill, seven against. (Roll Call vote here.)
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