Early Friday morning, the House passed a continuing resolution (CR) to keep the government funded through mid-November. The CR, which included additional funds to FEMA, is badly needed after Hurricane Irene and a record year of natural disasters emptied the agency’s already reduced coffers.
Unfortunately, this seemingly uncontroversial detail—that victims of natural disasters need relief—has turned into yet another opportunity for House leadership to slash clean energy programs and defer to big oil interests.
On Wednesday, the House voted on, and failed to pass, an original version of the CR. The CR faced unanimous opposition by House Democrats, because in addition to not providing adequate funding to FEMA, the measure “offsets” the costs of natural disasters by slashing $1.5 billion from an advanced clean energy vehicle loan program. This program—the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Program (ATVM)—has directly created more than 39,000 jobs and is projected to create tens of thousands more.
Following the initial failure of the CR, rather than eliminating this controversial offset, House leadership updated the CR to make it appeal to the most radical Republicans members—by adding yet another anti-clean energy measure. This time, in addition to drastically slashing funding for ATVM, the updated version of the CR also slashed $100 million from a Department of Energy loan program that provides financing for advanced clean energy projects such as solar, wind and biofuels. The updated version of the CR garnered enough support to pass shortly after midnight Friday.
The Democrat-controlled Senate rejected the CR hours later by a 59 – 36 vote.