The U.S. Senate voted 84-3 on Tuesday to form a conference committee with House lawmakers to iron out differences on competing energy bills. Seven senators were picked to work on the legislation. In late May, the House of Representatives selected 40 of its members for the conference committee.
But it might be a while before the committee gets to work. After this week, Congress is adjourned until September 6.
In May, the U.S. House of Representatives approved an amended version of the comprehensive energy bill that the Senate passed in April. The joint congressional conference committee will reconcile the two bills to create one that won’t contain provisions that President Obama would sign.
House Republicans replaced the bipartisan Senate bill with one that the Obama administration has pledged to veto. It was approved by a 241-178 vote.
The revised House proposal, which originally passed in December 2015, includes extra energy and natural resources bills. But it doesn’t have an amendment from the Senate bill that is strongly supported by the Window and Door Manufacturers Association (WDMA) and was a focus of its lobbying efforts on Capitol Hill in April. That measure would direct the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) to use energy-efficiency savings from doors, windows and skylights when determining eligibility for an FHA-insured mortgage.
However, the revised House bill does contain an amendment supported by WDMA. It defines the role the Department of Energy (DOE) should play in developing new energy codes and guarantees that some products and technologies don’t receive preferential treatment. It also promotes efficiency targets for buildings that strike the proper cost-benefit balance, and stops DOE from supporting any code or standard change with a payback period of more than ten years.