Worshipping at the Altar

Randy Kuhl has filed a discharge petition in an attempt to force a vote on HR 5656, a bill which repeals a ban on use of alternative, more polluting sources of energy for government vehicles. Kuhl's petition is part of an effort by Republicans to paint Democrats as “worshiping at the altar of radical environmentalism”, in the words of Minority Leader John Boehner.

The repeal bill, sponsored by Jeb Hensarling [R-TX-5], applies to the recently passed energy bill. It's based on the Air Force's desire to fund research into fuels derived from coal gassification, oil shale and oil sands. However, as Hensarling's own press release admits, it's not even certain that the provision his bill is trying to repeal applies to the military, and it's also not certain that the alternative fuels would be more polluting.

If the Republicans were seriously concerned that the energy bill restricts the military's power to research alternative fuels, they could have worked with Democrats on a clarifying bill. Instead, they wanted to give John Boehner a talking point, and here you have it.

Update: According to this article in the Hill newspaper, the issue raised by section 526 has already been addressed in an amendment to the Defense Appropriation bill that passed last month. The solution was bi-partisan, with Dan Boren (D-OK-2) offering the amendment in the House, and James Inhofe (R-OK) planning to do the same in the Senate. So Kuhl's discharge petition and the Hensarling bill look like a solution in search of a problem, and a way to make some noise.


Why won't the Democrats bring the vote to the floor? Seems to me that voting on issues can never hurt

My guess would be because they have other things to do and this bill doesn't address a real problem.

My guess is that people don't want to go on record with a vote

I did a little more research. Turns out that the House has already passed an amendment to the Defense spending bill that repeals 526 for defense procurement:


The Defense bill is in the Senate now.

Makes this look like nothing but an attempt to get a headline about an issue that already has a solution.

Washington is indeed a strange place.