Mr. LAMBORN. Mr. Chairman, my constituents in Colorado, like all Americans, are demanding that Congress cut spending. We must look for every opportunity, large and small, to cut wasteful government programs. This amendment does just that.
The Weatherization Assistance Program, otherwise known as ``Cash for Caulkers,'' and part of the failed stimulus package, has been plagued by bureaucratic mismanagement. This $5 billion program was supposed to create jobs, but we all know that didn't work out so well. In fact, with unemployment ticking up for 2 months in a row, we must reverse course and cut all unspent stimulus dollars.
In the stimulus, $5 billion was injected into ``Cash for Caulkers'' through the Department of Energy in an attempt to help lower the cost of energy and increase efficiency for people who qualified. The goal was to make 593,000 homes more energy efficient by March 2012.
This program, however, has been marked by mismanagement, fraud, waste, and abuse. Most notably is the case of Delaware, where Federal auditors found mismanagement issues and potential fraudulent activities. Reportedly, subsequent repairs and other inspections will cost the State a sizable amount of their remaining funds. Issues have arisen in other States as well.
When large sums of money are spent too quickly, the opportunities for waste and abuse are rampant. The Obama administration, in its haste to create government jobs, failed to thoughtfully and prudently assess how money was spent. In these tough fiscal times, we must have accountability for every dollar spent by the Federal Government.
States have until March of 2012 to use Cash for Clunkers funds or risk having them returned to the Treasury. I am concerned that this could leave a large slush fund of $1.5 billion in the hands of federal bureaucrats. They could spend that money with very little Congressional oversight.
My amendment is simple. It will prevent the Secretary of Energy from reallocating funds remaining from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act from one State to another. This will leave up to $1.5 billion that can be returned to the Treasury next March, thus reducing our massive deficit.
I urge support for this amendment.
Mr. Chairman, I yield back the balance of my time.
Mr. McCLINTOCK. Mr. Chairman, this amendment strikes language in the bill that allows the Secretary of Energy to redirect unspent stimulus funds from one State to another. What they're really saying is this: $1.5 billion is going to be taken from the States that decided not to use the money and give it to States that not only have spent their allocations but want to [Page: H4835]
spend even more. If Aesop were writing this tale, I think it would include an
ant and a grasshopper.
The principle stinks, and so does the program. These funds are ostensibly to finance weatherization and building design programs to increase energy efficiency. But the potential savings--if anywhere near as great as the administration claims--should be more than enough motivation for individuals to pursue this activity on their own without a government giveaway. After all, why should taxpayers pay to develop and subsidize building materials and technologies to be sold in the private sector to
In all matters of energy and energy conservation, we've got to get back to the simple doctrine that the beneficiary should pay. If a product saves consumers money--in this case through energy savings--that's a benefit, and it is incorporated into the price structure of that product. This elegant and simple process allows consumers to decide for themselves if the added energy savings are worth the added financial cost. If the answer is yes, the world will beat a path to the door of those who manufacture
and sell those products. And if the answer is no, taxpayers shouldn't be subsidizing it.
I yield back the balance of my time.
Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN. I rise to oppose the amendment.
The weatherization program was provided $5 billion by the stimulus bill in 2009. But the program has been slow to act, and approximately $1.4 billion will be unspent and available for use in fiscal year 2012.
Some States have spent all of their stimulus money, while others will have plenty left for fiscal year 2012. But the Department of Energy, by law, must spread any new funding evenly across all States.
The bill cuts this program by $141 million below the President's request. The language in the underlying bill gives the Secretary of Energy the flexibility to use limited appropriations provided in fiscal year 2012 to supplement States that have no stimulus funding. The bill does not allow--I would like to add that emphasis--the bill does not allow the Secretary to reallocate stimulus funds. All it does is allow the Secretary some flexibility in where he allocates it. There is $33 million left
in the bill.
Let me say, we can't afford, in the Department of Energy, with this program, or any other program, to have business as usual in terms of weatherizations. And I would agree with the gentleman from Colorado that in many cases, the money hasn't been spent, and in some cases there have been questions as to how well it's been spent.
This waiver in our bill provides a solution allowing all States to continue this program under a tight federal budget and with direct oversight of our committee. The amendment that is suggested by the gentleman from Colorado would undo the solution by striking language providing this flexibility, causing job losses and program stoppages in many States where, in fact, in those States, these funds are obligated.
So, therefore, I oppose the amendment and urge other Members to do so as well.
I yield back the balance of my time.
Mr. VISCLOSKY. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the last word and rise in opposition to the amendment as well.
The Acting CHAIR. The gentleman from Indiana is recognized for 5 minutes.