The Washington Post

Republicans are still riled up about light bulbs

As predicted, Republicans aren't surrendering in the “Battle of the Bulb.”

Conservatives lost a Tuesday House vote on a measure that would have revoked federal light bulb energy efficiency standards, rules set to phase in next year that will save consumers money and won't ban any particular type of light bulb, but have nevertheless tickled the anti-government nerves of Tea Party types. So Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Texas), who hysterically exaggerated the drawbacks of the law leading up to Tuesday's vote, has filed an amendment to the Energy appropriations bill the House is considering this week that would defund any federal effort to enforce the standards.

Nevermind that about the only people who will lose when the rules kick in next year are the ones who have taken the warnings of Burgess and others like him seriously, stockpiling vast supplies of old-school, inefficient incandescent bulbs that waste 90 percent of the electricity consumers buy to power them.

Because Burgess is attempting to amend the energy appropriations bill, his measure might be slightly more likely to pass Congress than the one that failed earlier this week. But not much more. The Democratic Senate would probably remove the amendment even if it passed the House. Still, House Republicans then will have delivered a politically symbolic vote to their base, as they did when they repealed the 2010 health-care law.

That wouldn't be desirable, but it might be fitting; as National Journal describes well, Tea Party politics regarding who would become the GOP House's Energy and Commerce Committee chairman — not real policy considerations — is what sparked this whole episode in the first place.

Stephen Stromberg is a Post editorial writer. He specializes in domestic policy, including energy, the environment, legal affairs and public health.


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