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Republicans follow through on their odd home appliance fixation

Why did Republicans prioritize the “Hands Off Our Home Appliances Act”? It all stems from the GOP's problem with energy efficiency standards.


About a month ago, Axios reported that there was some growing “frustration” among House Republicans over their party’s focus on home appliance–related legislation, especially given that the Democratic-led Senate would ignore the GOP’s measures.

Republican leaders apparently preferred to ignore those concerns. The Hill reported:

The House on Tuesday passed a bill aimed at making it more difficult for the Energy Department to enact energy efficiency rules for household appliances — the latest in Republicans’ efforts related to such appliances. ... The bill would both add hurdles to creating new appliance standards and make it easier to revoke existing standards.

The final tally was 212 to 195, with zero House Republicans voting against the “Hands Off Our Home Appliances Act” (or HOOHA). Seven Democrats from competitive districts actually broke ranks and went along with the GOP’s messaging bill.

For what it’s worth, the legislation has been championed by Republican Rep. Debbie Lesko of Arizona, who’s stepping down at the end of the current Congress. As E&E News reported this week, her bill would prevent the Department of Energy from implementing or enforcing efficiency standards on a variety of home appliances if they are not “technically feasible or economically justified” and if they do not result in “significant conservation of energy.”

And ultimately, that’s what this effort is all about: GOP members have a problem with energy efficiency standards, which used to enjoy relatively bipartisan support before the party's approach to energy policy moved sharply to the right.

A recent PunchBowl News report helped summarize matters: “These are all part of the Republican culture war clash over energy efficiency and climate change. It’s similar to the gas stove hysteria or Trump’s war on low-flush toilets and light bulbs.

GOP lawmakers know that these home appliance bills aren’t going anywhere in the Democratic-led Senate, but by all appearances, party leaders don’t much care. They want to be able to tell the far-right Republican base that they’re on Capitol Hill, fighting tooth and nail in support of pointless bills that combat energy conservation and efficiency standards.

As a result, the Hands Off Our Home Appliances Act will no doubt make for delightful fundraising letters and several Fox News segments, even as real priorities in need of Republicans’ attention go overlooked.

As for the rest of the party’s appliance-related agenda, votes on the “Liberty in Laundry Act” (H.R. 7673), the “Clothes Dryers Reliability Act (H.R. 7645), the “Refrigerator Freedom Act” (H.R. 7637), the “Affordable Air Conditioning Act” (H.R. 7626), and the “Stop Unaffordable Dishwasher Standards Act” (H.R. 7700) were supposed to receive votes a few weeks ago. They have not yet been rescheduled, but it’s a safe bet they’ll end up on the House floor in the coming weeks and months.

This post updates our related earlier coverage.