“NO” on Bennet-Isakson FHA Amendment to S. 2012

Heritage Action will key vote the following amendments to the to the Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2015 (S. 2012):

Key Vote Alert: “NO” on Bennet-Isakson FHA Amendment

The Senate could vote on an amendment by Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO) 5% and Johnny Isakson (R-GA) 52% to S. 2012, Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2015.  The Bennet-Isakson amendment would force the Federal Housing Authority (FHA) to further subsidize government-backed mortgage loans under the pretense of energy efficiency.

As Heritage analysts Norbert Michel and Nick Loris explain, this amendment “requires the ‘expected energy cost savings’ from conservation programs to be included in borrowers’ debt-to-income test. In other words, loan applicants will effectively have their income increased because underwriters will be required to reduce borrowers’ estimated future living expenses.”

This is problematic because it:

  • further subsidizes taxpayer-backed home mortgages under the pretense of energy efficiency;
  • dictates an increase in the amount of money that people will be able to borrow with a Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loan;
  • requires underwriters to reduce borrowers’ estimated future living expenses, thus having the effect of increasing borrowers’ income for the purpose of qualifying for a (larger) loan;
  • counts on savings that may never actually be realized;
  • further degrades FHA’s standards which are already very low; and
  • magnifies these effects by compelling appraisers to add the alleged value of estimated energy savings to the property under consideration for a mortgage.

The net effect of this amendment would be to inflate home prices, burden individuals with higher loans than they need or can afford, and increase the number of risky government backed-mortgages in the housing  market – all at the taxpayer’s expense.

Heritage Action opposes the Bennet-Isakson Amendment and will include it as a key vote on our legislative scorecard.

Related:
Daily Signal: Proposed Legislation Would Increase Bureaucratic Interference in Housing Market
Heritage: Bipartisan Senate Energy Bill Full of Poison Pills (October 2015)
The Hill: Conservative group warns against House energy bill (October 2015)
Heritage: 5 Reasons Why Senate Energy Modernization Bill Is Anything but Modern (January 2016)
Heritage Action: “NO” on Energy Policy Modernization Act (January 2016)

*** This key vote was originally posted February 2, 2016***

The following amendments were offered to S. 2012 but will did receive a vote:

Key Vote Alert: “YES” on Cassidy Amendment to Repeal RFS Mandate

This week, the Senate could vote on an amendment by Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) 51% to S. 2012, Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2015.  The Cassidy amendment would completely repeal the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). Signed into law in 2005 and expanded in 2007, the RFS forces American oil refiners to include a minimum amount of renewable fuel each year.

Nick Loris, energy analyst at the Heritage Foundation, previously summed up the concerns with the mandate:

“The mandate promised less dependence on foreign oil, lower fuel prices, and fewer greenhouse gas emissions. Instead of delivering on these promises, the mandate delivered concentrated benefits to politically connected producers and higher costs to America’s energy consumers.”

Like Obamacare, this program forces a product on the American people whether they want or need it. It is the perfect example of Washington playing favorites at the expense of the American people.

The principled position would be repeal of the entire mandate.  Some have tried to advance a middle road that would primarily repeal the corn ethanol part of the mandate while leaving in place the most expensive parts of the mandate dealing with advanced and cellulosic biofuels.  This approach continues to play favorites in the market and would continue to leave consumers on the hook for increased gas prices.

After a decade of preferential treatment by the federal government, it is time for the ethanol and biofuels industry to stand on their own merits.

Heritage Action supports the Cassidy Amendment to repeal the RFS and will include it as a key vote on our legislative scorecard.

Related:
Heritage: Bipartisan Senate Energy Bill Full of Poison Pills (October 2015)
The Hill: Conservative group warns against House energy bill (October 2015)
Heritage: 5 Reasons Why Senate Energy Modernization Bill Is Anything but Modern (January 2016)
Heritage Action: “NO” on Energy Policy Modernization Act (January 2016)

Key Vote Alert: “YES” on Lee Amendment to Block Permanent LWCF Extension

This week, the Senate could vote on an amendment by Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) 100% to S. 2012, Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2015.  The Lee amendment would prevent a permanent extension of the Land & Water Conservation Fund (LWCF).

At the end of 2015 the House and Senate passed an omnibus appropriations bill that included a three-year extension of the LWCF. Now the Energy Policy Modernization Act seeks to permanently reauthorize the program in perpetuity.

The LWCF is one the ways the federal government increases its footprint by buying more land. As The Heritage Foundation notes the federal government already has sizable land assets:

“The federal government owns between 635 million and 640 million acres of land in the entire United States, nearly 30 percent of the country and nearly half of the western U.S.”

Federal government management of these lands often comes at the expense of economic development and limits the opportunities for the individuals in those areas. Furthermore, proponents of the program assume that the federal government acquiring more lands in the name of conservation is a net positive for the environment. As Heritage points out this is sadly not the case:

“Eliminating the LWCF will not create more environmental degradation; in fact, just the opposite. America’s largest land holder, the Department of the Interior, has a maintenance backlog of $13.5 billion to $20 billion for the land it already owns—a deficit leading to environmental degradation, soil erosion, gross amounts of littering, and land mismanagement.”

The federal government should allow states, local communities, and individuals who are closest to the land and the most responsible for its economic and environmental outcomes to determine the right path for its use.

Heritage Action supports the Lee Amendment to strip the LWCF language and will include it as a key vote on our legislative scorecard.   

Related:
Heritage: Bipartisan Senate Energy Bill Full of Poison Pills (October 2015)
The Hill: Conservative group warns against House energy bill (October 2015)
Heritage: 5 Reasons Why Senate Energy Modernization Bill Is Anything but Modern (January 2016)
Heritage Action: “NO” on Energy Policy Modernization Act (January 2016)