House Democrats push clean energy in spending package

House Democrats plan to make at least part of Wednesday’s debate on a $789 billion spending bill for fiscal 2018 about restoring renewable energy funding at the Department of Energy through a slew of amendments that likely will slow down a final vote on the overall spending package.

Democrats are offering at least nine amendments in a bid to raise spending levels for the Energy Department’s Office of Energy and Renewable Energy, as well as individual programs to support electric vehicles and alternative fuels.

The House spending bill does not include the deep cuts to renewables that President Trump proposed in his fiscal 2018 budget request, but most House Democrats say renewable technologies should be funded at least at fiscal 2017 levels. The Energy and Water Development Appropriations Bill, included in the spending package, totals $37.5 billion, which is $203 million below fiscal 2017 levels but $3.2 billion above the cuts that Trump proposed in his request.

The first amendment comes from Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Fla., that seeks to increase funding for the renewable energy office by $177 million, while simultaneously reducing funding for fossil energy research and development by $355 million.

A second amendment from Rep. Donald Norcross, D-N.J., adds nearly $162 million to the renewable energy office “for research and development to advance energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies,” according to a summary of the proposal.

A third amendment from Rep. Mike Quigley, D-Ill., would seek to defund the Energy Department’s nuclear weapons component, which makes up nearly half of the agency’s responsibilities, and move spending to clean energy development. The proposed rider would cut $921 million from the agency’s nuclear weapons activities’ account and add that funding to the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.

Another amendment offered by Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo., would increase money for the renewable energy account by $986 million to the…

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