CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
H.R. 5156 is expected to be considered on the floor of the House on Tuesday, July 27, 2010, 2010, under a motion to suspend the rules, requiring a two-thirds vote for passage. The legislation was introduced by Rep. Doris Matsui (D-CA) on April 27, 2010. The House Committee on Energy and Commerce ordered the bill reported by voice vote on July 21, 2010.
H.R. 5156 would authorize $75 million over five years for a new program through which the Department of Commerce would promote the development of the clean energy technology sector.
The bill creates a new Clean Energy Technology Manufacturing and Export Assistance Fund, which would be administered by the International Trade Administration within the Commerce Department. The fund would be used to promote policies to reduce production costs and encourage innovation in the clean energy sector to ensure that clean energy firms have the resources to be competitive. The bill authorizes $15 million in each of Fiscal Years 2011 through 2015 for the new fund.
The bill defines "clean energy" as energy technologies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and either contribute to more efficient use of traditional energy sources or produce new, environmentally friendly energy sources.
The Department of Commerce would use the fund to provide information and assistance to U.S. businesses to promote clean energy technology and manufacturing, and the export of clean energy technology products and services. The Department could not provide grants to firms, but would provide services and technical assistance.
Member Concerns: Some Members may be concerned that this bill creates a new five year, $75 million assistance fund within the Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration (ITA).
According to Republican Members of the Energy and Commerce Committee, “This fund is unnecessary, as the ITA already has the authority to initiate such a program and ample funds to do so, as the President’s fiscal year 2011 budget requested an increase of 20 percent, up to $534 million.” Additionally, in committee markup, Democrats defeated a GOP amendment that would have prevented the bill from taking effect if it would have a negative net effect on the budget deficit. Some Members may believe that since the federal budget deficit was $1.4 trillion in Fiscal Year 2010, Congress needs to address runaway spending and this $75 million fund would be an appropriate place to start.
The Congressional Budget Office has not produced a cost estimate for H.R. 5156 as of press time. However, the bill would authorize the appropriation of a total of $75 million over five years.