The legislation to repeal the ban on incandescent light bulbs failed in the House on Tuesday 233 -193. While a majority voted for the repeal of the Republican pushed legislation that would make Thomas Edison’s invention okay to buy, sell, and own in the United States, nevertheless, the bill needed at least a 2/3 majority which it fell short of, since the vote happened under suspension.
The Hill reported on Monday that the House bill headed to the floor today that would repeal the ban on incandescent light bulbs would ‘likely’ go down in defeat, as it would be a vote under suspension and therefore require a 2/3 majority in order to pass the lower chamber:
House Democrats on Monday indicated strong opposition to a controversial bill to repeal federal lightbulb standards, which could lead to the defeat of the measure in an expected Tuesday vote.
The Better Use of Light Bulbs Act, H.R. 2417 would end federal bulb standards passed in 2007 that Republicans have since held up as a prime example of federal overreach. House Republicans brought up the bill under a suspension of the rules, which requires two-thirds of voting members to support it.
That means even though a majority might support it, it is unlikely to be approved Tuesday in light of Democratic opposition.
Some on the right are scratching their heads and wondering why the GOP would put themselves in this position, when a simple majority could pass the light bulb ban. My friend Ed Morrissey at Hot Air writes:
I’m not sure why the bill was introduced under a suspension of the rules. The GOP may have wanted to rush it to the floor, as they have been attracting some heat (pun intended) over their lack of energy (yes, I’m having fun) about overturning the 2007 law. The Hill doesn’t explain the strategy behind that decision, but the Christian Science Monitor reports that it could be added later as a rider to another bill.
Congressman Cliff Stearns, Florida Republican, a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee may have the answer. I spoke with him earlier today about why the GOP decided to vote on the bulb bill under suspension and he answered:
“I think that most Republicans feel that we’re going to pass it under suspension with 2/3, but in order to that we need all the Republicans plus we’re going to need Democrats. And so the question is how many Republicans do we lose, and I haven’t done the whip, but I assume McCarthy has done the whip count and he’s got the votes or he would have brought it up.”
Mr. Stearns also said that if the bill does not get a 2/3 majority today, the GOP will bring it back so it will only require a simple majority. So why not require a simply majority now? Rep. Stearns explained that the bill would have to go the Rules Committee at that point where it would be vulnerable to changes along the way before it even came to the floor. Under suspension, the bill is voted on as is, except a super-majority of 2/3 is needed to pass it.
“They would have to take it to the rules committee and advocate open rules and if you put it on the floor with open rules a lot of things can happen, and it will take a longer period of time and you can even argue that it should go through sub-committees and full committees. So putting it under suspension was a thrust to say we think we can pass it quickly.”
Mr. Stearns also believes, that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, will have a tough time convincing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, to bring it to the floor for a vote. Furthermore, even if it does miraculously pass the Senate, President Barack Obama will likely veto the legislation. If 2/3 of the House votes for the bill today, it will be a difficult veto for Mr. Obama. If not, then the GOP has another issue to campaign on, that the American people largely support.