Israel crisis thwarts House energy agenda

By Nico Portuondo, Manuel Quiñones | 04/15/2024 06:45 AM EDT

The chamber was preparing to debate a raft of bills opposing DOE efficiency mandates. A new slate includes legislation on Iranian energy sanctions.

Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.).

House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.) and other top House Republicans scrapped the chamber's previous energy-focused agenda for this week. Francis Chung/POLITICO

House Republicans were planning a coordinated legislative offensive on the Department of Energy’s efficiency standards in a slate of bills to be voted on this week.

But Iran’s attack on Israel this weekend — in retaliation for Israel bombing an Iranian consulate in Syria — prompted House leaders to change course.

“In light of Iran’s unjustified attack on Israel, the House will move from its previously announced legislative schedule next week to instead consider legislation that supports our ally Israel and holds Iran and its terrorist proxies accountable,” said Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.) on Saturday.


House lawmakers have failed to coalesce around a national security supplemental spending package with money for Israel, Ukraine and other needs. The chamber has also failed to pass an Israel-focused plan.

“We are going to try again this week, and the details of that package are being put together,” Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) said Sunday during a Fox News interview.

Several bills on the schedule seek to strengthen sanctions against Iran. Rep. Mike Lawler’s (R-N.Y.) H.R. 5923, the “Iran-China Energy Sanctions Act of 2023,” would make it harder for China to buy Iranian oil.

The House already passed H.R. 3774, the “Stop Harboring Iranian Petroleum (SHIP) Act,” which would go after entities that help Iran sell its oil. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is voting on a companion this week (see related story).

“The House of Representatives stands strongly with Israel, and there must be consequences for this unprovoked attack,” Scalise said.

Efficiency bills

From air conditioners to clothes dryers and refrigerators, the legislation previously up for a vote would have barred DOE from implementing or enforcing efficiency standards for home appliances if if they do not result in “significant conservation of energy.”

“If it is not stopped, the administration’s plans will impose burdensome and costly efficiency mandates for virtually every appliance in your home,” said House Energy and Commerce Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) at a recent hearing.

“These bills would prohibit the secretary of Energy from imposing new efficiency mandates or enforcing existing standards unless they pass a simple three-part test.”

The votes were part of an ongoing GOP campaign against what critics call the administration’s regulatory overreach against appliances. They are likely to hit the floor in the coming weeks.

On the agenda was Arizona Republican Rep. Debbie Lesko’s H.R. 6192. It would limit DOE from conducting rulemaking on any home appliance that is not economically justified.

Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-Ariz.).
Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-Ariz.). | House Television

Democrats were already expressing frustration with the Republican agenda, especially as other key priorities, such as emergency aid for rebuilding the Francis Scott Key Bridge and Ukraine, remain in limbo.

“This is real. This is actually what Republicans are preparing to spend [time on] next week on in the House,” said Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) on X, formerly known as Twitter, last Thursday.

Other bills on the agenda included:

  • H.R. 7673, the “Liberty in Laundry Act,” from Rep. Andy Ogles (R-Tenn.), which takes aim at DOE standards for washing machines.
  • H.R. 7645, the “Clothes Dryer Reliability Act,” from Rep. Mike Ezell (R-Miss.), which seeks to block DOE’s rule on clothes dryers.
  • H.R. 7637, the “Refrigerator Freedom Act,” from Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-Iowa), which would block DOE’s rule on refrigerators.
  • H.R. 7700, the “Stop Unaffordable Dishwasher Standards (SUDS) Act,” from Rep. Nick Langworthy (R-N.Y.), against DOE’s standards for dishwashers.
  • H.R. 7626, the “Affordable Air Conditioning Act,” from Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas), which takes aim at DOE’s rule on air conditioners.

The House already passed two bills — H.R. 1640 and H.R. 1615 — against gas stove rulemaking from DOE and the Consumer Product Safety Commission. DOE ended up watering down its gas stove rule, and CPSC is not working on a proposal.

More on House, Senate agenda

The Senate will be discussing energy policy this week. The chamber is poised to vote on legislation, S. 4072, against EPA tailpipe standards for cars and light trucks.

The Senate will also be dealing with the House impeachment of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and House-passed surveillance legislation.

Beyond the energy efficiency measures, the House was planning to vote on a handful of bipartisan bills meant to boost research and development in areas including weather forecasting and carbon capture and sequestration. Those plans are also off.

Reporters Timothy Cama and Andres Picon contributed.