WASHINGTON — Opponents of the federal phaseout of old-style incandescent light bulbs failed in the House on Tuesday to repeal the requirement for more efficient lighting but are expected to try again soon.
Republicans who have made the new light-bulb efficiency rules a symbol of Washington regulatory overreach fell short of the two-thirds majority required for expedited action on the repeal measure, the Better Use of Our Light Bulbs, or BULB, Act.
But with a 233-193 vote in favor of it, the House GOP leadership may bring it back for approval under procedures that require only a simple majority. The repeal faces dim prospects in the Democrat-controlled Senate, however.
"I don't think it will go anywhere," said Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.
"We're not opposed to new technology," Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, leader of the repeal effort, said during the debate earlier this week. "We're saying let people make their own choices. Why in the world does the federal government have to tell people what kind of lights to use in their home?"
Federal energy legislation signed by President George W. Bush in 2007 phases out the old incandescents over three years, starting with 100-watt bulbs next Jan. 1, in favor of more efficient lighting.
California has already implemented the new standards. Democratic leaders of the California state Senate sent a letter to the state's congressional delegation, contending the bill would invalidate the state's new light-bulb standards and urging the bill's defeat.
But Texas recently enacted legislation seeking to get around the federal law by declaring that incandescent bulbs — if made and sold only in Texas — do not involve interstate commerce and are not subject to federal regulation, and a number of other states are considering following suit.
The vote came after supporters of the new rules held up more efficient incandescent bulbs on the House floor to point out that consumers would still be able to buy incandescents instead of compact fluorescent light bulbs that have drawn criticism for being more costly, mostly made in China and containing mercury.
The Obama administration, along with a diverse coalition that includes Thomas Edison's descendants, bulb manufacturers, the United Steelworkers and consumer and environmental groups opposes the repeal.
Is this a case of the government micromanaging our lives, or do you think that this is something that should be done?