This was a vote on an amendment by Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA) that would have increased funding by $15 million for a Defense Department program intended to reduce energy use at the department’s facilities. (This program was known as the Environmental Security Technology Certification program, or ESTCP.) This amendment was offered to legislation providing annual funding for Defense Department programs.
Connolly urged support for his amendment: “According to the [Defense] Department, facilities energy represented at least $4 billion in direct costs to the taxpayer in fiscal year 2010. The Department is paying to heat, cool, light, and operate 539,000 buildings and structures that hold 2.2 billion square feet. The Environmental Security Technology Certification program is focused on finding ways to decrease energy demand, develop smart distribution systems, and increase the use of alternative and renewable energy at U.S. military installations….ESTCP funds projects in five program areas: energy and water; environmental restoration; munitions response; resource conservation and climate change; and weapons systems and platforms…. These projects include energy-efficient lighting, heating, and air conditioning such as daylight harvesting, personalized dimming, combustion control systems, and high-performance cooling technology.”
Rep. Bill Young (R-FL) opposed Connolly’s amendment. He first argued that the ESTCP had not been “authorized” by Congress for fiscal year 2012. (Before passing legislation that actually spends money on a government program, it must first pass a bill to “authorize” such funding to be spent on that program. While the House had passed a bill (the Defense Authorization bill) that authorized the ESTCP, that legislation had not yet become law. Thus, Young argued, the ESTCP was not an authorized program. He also argued that there was sufficient overall funding in the Army Operation and Maintenance Account—the account under which the ESTCP had previously been funded—for the Defense Department to carry out the program without a specific allocation from Congress. Young said: “The program is not authorized….the defense authorization bill is not law….Further, the Army operation and maintenance account is funded at over $34.5 billion. Should this project remain in the final authorization bill and the Department concurs that it is a high enough priority, then there are more than enough funds for the Department to execute the program. Unfortunately, however, I don't have the ability to make that determination for the Department on the floor. And because of these and other objections, I must oppose the amendment.”
The House rejected this amendment by a vote of 152-226. Voting “yea” were 145 Democrats and 7 Republicans. 226 Republicans and 40 Democrats voted “nay.” As a result, the House rejected an amendment that would have increased funding by $15 million for a Defense Department program intended to reduce energy use at the department’s facilities.