If thereís one thing that Members of Congress can say they agree on, itís that they canít. But donít believe them.
From campaign speeches to Senate floor debates, Members from both sides of the aisle espouse the same goals and visions for America more often than they would probably care to admit.
• Help middle-class families save money? Check.
• Encourage private-sector job growth? Check.
• Make the government more efficient? Check.
• Increase U.S. economic competitiveness? Check.
• Strengthen our national energy security? Check.
• Reduce government spending? Check.
• Save taxpayer money? Check.
As it turns out, thereís a solution staring directly at Congress that can help accomplish all these goals, but both parties canít seem to find it. (Hint: Itís right under the Senateís nose.)
The Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act, introduced a year ago by Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio), would provide $20 billion in net energy savings to American households and businesses from 2012 to 2030 and support a net increase of 159,000 jobs by 2030, according to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, as well as save taxpayers millions of dollars in government spending.
And thatís just the beginning.
By tapping into the growing power of energy productive technologies, this legislation would reduce barriers to advancing energy efficiency throughout our economy. Additionally, it would drive adoption of technologies that will save businesses and consumers money, make America more energy independent and reduce emissions.
Ross Eisenberg, vice president for energy and resources policy at the National Association of Manufacturers, has noted, ďThis bipartisan legislation would positively impact manufacturing and construction jobs and increase the energy security of the United States by reducing overall energy consumption.Ē
The bill appeals to common sense: If we can use less, we can save (and do) more.
The cheapest fuel ďis the energy we donít use,Ē as Shaheen put it so simply on the measureís introduction.
The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee approved the bill with a bipartisan 18-3 vote last July.
The bill is also widely supported outside Congress by a broad coalition of more than 150 small and large businesses, energy and environmental advocates, trade associations, think tanks and consumer and faith-based groups ó organizations and businesses that often disagree on a variety of issues and policies but almost always agree on the value of energy efficiency.
ďThe business community strongly supports this bill,Ē the U.S. Chamber of Commerce stressed in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). That letter, from the group representing 3 million businesses and organizations, merely sought a Senate floor vote on the legislation.
Another reason the Shaheen-Portman bill is so appealing to Republicans and Democrats is because the measure requires no additional revenue.
In fact, the funding needed is already there ó provided by other energy-efficiency programs, initiatives and grants; the billís focus is clearly on saving taxpayer money, not spending it.
But Shaheen-Portman still canít seem to find its way onto the Senate schedule. Instead, its progress seems to be delayed by election-year partisanship.
Following the speeches from elected officials, the crowd stands at long tables as they dig into BBQ, brunswick stew, cadillac rice at the Law Enforcement Cookout at Wayne Dasher's pond house in Glennville, Ga., on Thursday, April 17, 2014.