WASHINGTON — The House of Representatives on Friday defeated an amendment that would have prohibited the federal government from installing or buying compact fluorescent light bulbs for congressional offices.
The amendment's author, Rep. Glenn "GT" Thompson, R-Pa., had argued that the energy-efficient and squiggly shaped bulbs known as CFLs are not made in the U.S. and are dangerous because they contain mercury. The House rejected his amendment to the House appropriations bill that funds congressional operations 130-283.
In the Kansas delegation, Tim Huelskamp and Kevin Yoder voted for the amendment. Lynn Jenkins and Mike Pompeo voted against it.
Thompson said that it would be better for the government to support U.S.-made products by not buying CFL bulbs that are made overseas. If his amendment had passed, he had hoped that the move would promote U.S. light bulb manufacturers, including two Sylvania plants in his congressional district that produce energy-efficient halogen bulbs.
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Echoing a common concern of opponents of CFLs, Thompson said that the light created by non-CFL bulbs is easier on the eyes.
"Maybe this is a personal perspective, but I also find that the light that they create is a lot easier for me to read (in) than the lumens that are put out by CFLs," he said.
Thompson said he was disappointed that his amendment failed to pass. One hundred and four Republicans and 179 Democrats voted against the amendment, while 126 Republicans and four Democrats voted for it.
"I think a lot of people didn't understand what they were voting on because anyone who voted against my amendment was voting for jobs in China when they could have been voting for jobs in the United States," he said.
Environmentalists said his proposal was unwise, as CFLs would save the government money and are more energy efficient than traditional incandescent bulbs.
Jim Presswood, the federal energy policy director of the Natural Resources Defense Council, argued that Thompson's amendment "doesn't make any sense."
He added that any mercury risk posed by CFLs is minimal even if the bulb breaks. His group argues that CFLs are 75 percent more efficient than traditional incandescent bulbs and save the government about $50 for every light socket on Capitol Hill.