Last week, the House Science Committee abruptly halted consideration of a bill to reauthorize research programs at the Department of Energy. Democrats on the Science Committee objected to what they considered to be a short time frame between the bill being made public and the markup. The draft bill was released five days before the markup.
The minority also raised concerns about low spending levels. The bill would reauthorize many Department of Energy research programs at levels lower than those approved by the House Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee for fiscal year 2015. The bill would cut the authorized funding level for the Biological and Environmental Research division by more than $100 million in 2015 and ask the Government Accountability Office to identify “duplicative” climate research programs for elimination. The Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) would lose $40 million from its funding authorization.
“We’re being asked to make tough decisions about how to allocate billions of taxpayers’ dollars after having less than three business days to consider the bill’s provisions, let alone talk with constituents and stakeholders,” said Representative Eric Swalwell (D-CA), ranking member of the Subcommittee on Energy.
When Representative Swalwell objected to waiving the reading of the bill, which is a usual procedure at a committee markup, Chairwoman Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) elected to end the markup.
Representative Lummis stated that 15 oversight hearings had already been held on the issue and that this was the time for Democrats to offer amendments on the bill. “We extended this courtesy to the minority party to engage in the amendment process to make this bill their bill too,” she said.
Although it is not known what the committee leadership will do next, it is possible for Republicans to schedule a full committee markup.
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