Bipartisan Energy Bill Gets Caught In DC’s Partisan Gridlock
U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal used a tour of a West Hartford electrical equipment manufacturer Monday to highlight an energy bill that would save consumers $13.7 billion annually and create 164,000 jobs by 2030. But, like most things in Washington, it’s caught up in the partisan gridlock that has become commonplace.
The bill, if passed, would offer federal funding for rebates that would help manufacturers upgrade old and inefficient technology, raise efficiency standards for federal facilities and newly constructed buildings, and support ongoing research and development of alternative energy sources.
Republicans, who Blumenthal painted as the obstructionists, actually like the underlying bill, but are trying to attach an amendment to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
The Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act has a great deal of bipartisan support in the Senate, but Blumenthal blamed the lack of action on “a small minority of fringe extremists” who are intent blocking all progress in the Senate until the Affordable Care Act has been dismantled.
Last Thursday, Blumenthal urged his fellow Senators to overcome partisan gridlock and pass the bill that is expected to stir economic activity and contribute to job growth. The bill, according to GovTrack.US has a 24 percent chance of being enacted. GovTrack.US reports that from 2011 to 2013 only about 23 percent of the bills that made it through the committee process were enacted.
“If Congress cannot work together to pass this no brainer, there may be nothing passed this session,” Blumenthal said.
Like Blumenthal, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has blamed Tea Party Republicans for using the bill as an opportunity to delay and defund the Affordable Care Act.
“We’re diverted totally from what this bill is about. Why? Because the anarchists have taken over,” Reid said on the Senate floor. “They’ve taken over the House and now they’ve taken over the Senate.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell wants to attach an amendment to the bill that would delay the individual mandate for one year and fellow Republican Sen. David Vitter is attempting to add his own amendment that would force some executive and legislative staff to enter into the virtual marketplaces also referred to as insurance exchanges.
Blumenthal called the bill “common sense.” He also offered his own amendment to the bill that requires the U.S. Department of Energy to not only study the monetary advantages of energy conservation equipment, but the non-monetary advantages as well.
“Very often those quality of life or non-monetary dividends can be very important,” Blumenthal said.
At the conclusion of the Legrand tour on Monday, Blumenthal said that he was glad to have a first-hand account of a business at the forefront of manufacturing energy-efficient technologies. He said he hopes to use the company as an example of the sort of business that the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act will help.
Legrand is a France-based global leader in electrical, data, and network solutions to improve delivery and control of power for commercial, industrial, and residential uses. Legrand’s North American headquarters, where Blumenthal made his remarks Monday, are in West Hartford. The company manufactures more than 50,000 products, including dimmers, lighting management systems, wiring devices, cable management systems, home automation and audio systems and electric vehicle charging stations.