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Public Statements

Rural Energy Savings Program Act

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. SHADEGG. Mr. Speaker, the underlying legislation creates a $5 billion government loan program to assist people in purchasing energy efficiency devices. Anytime we spend that amount of money, we ought to be very careful about the spending of that money, especially since we face a $1.3 trillion deficit. Earlier this year, the GAO conducted an investigation which found rampant fraud and abuse in the highly touted Energy Star Program.

Sadly, many companies have become very creative in ripping off the Department of Energy and the Energy Star Program. The motion to recommit makes a number of sensible changes and restrictions to protect the taxpayers in the implementation of this legislation.

First, it urges that the GAO and the Secretary of Energy report any waste, fraud or abuse found in the program. This is simply good governance.

Second, this program, which provides government subsidized loans, makes sure that these home improvement loans are eligible only to people who deserve the largesse, the assistance, of the government. First, it says, for example, loans can be only used for primary residences. Energy Star loans subsidized by the government under this legislation could not be used for vacation homes or beach houses. The taxpayer should not be providing energy-efficient appliances at luxury homes.

Second, the motion to recommit strikes community-based organizations from potential lenders. This goes back to the problem of ACORN and the strong belief that they should not be in the position of using or having access to these funds.

Third, the MTR ensures that these retrofit loans are only available to households where the gross income is less than $250,000. It should go without saying that if the other side is proposing to increase taxes on earners in this category, we should not be opening up subsidized government loans to people who make money at that level.

Third, the motion to recommit provides that homeowners who are delinquent in their child support payments, so-called deadbeat dads, are not eligible for these subsidized loans. It's pretty simple and straightforward that when the government decides to help people in these circumstances purchase energy-efficient equipment that they can't otherwise afford, that we should not be doing that either for deadbeat dads or for the wealthiest of Americans.

It also provides that loans and loan subsidies under this legislation cannot be used for such luxuries such as swimming pool heaters or to purchase LCD TVs or fancy TVs. While these technologies may save energy, the dollars in this loan program, $5 billion, which I would argue we don't have right now, should not be used to fund luxury items.

People should not be using a subsidy from the government or a subsidized loan to buy a flat-screen TV or swimming pool heater.

Last, the MTR provides to fill in the standards in the legislation, ensuring that sketchy contractors cannot implement this program. For example, the construction cannot be done by contractors convicted of fraud.

Finally, and most importantly, the legislation provides that the programs must be deficit neutral. If either program, if either program is found to have a negative effect on the national debt, then that program is suspended.

My colleagues on the other side will find this one of the things that they call a gutting amendment, but it really isn't. It is simply put in place to say that if you don't want to pay for the bill, which we would have argued for it and which we offered amendments in Rules for, then we should not allow it to increase the Nation's deficit.

As I mentioned, we face a $1.3 trillion deficit. This simply says that before we provide subsidized government loans to people to buy energy-efficient equipment, that should not be done in a deficit situation where we are expanding the deficit and passing the cost of the program on to our children and our grandchildren.

These are simple, straightforward, good-government provisions. They make the legislation better. They enable it to do what the authors of the legislation intended it to do without adding to the financial burden on the American taxpayer.

I urge my colleagues to support the motion to recommit.

I yield back the balance of my time.


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