Most Expensive Bill of the Week
The Bill: S. 3631, Clean Energy Works Act
Annualized Cost: $4.227 billion ($21.135 billion over five years)
Senator Patty Murray (WA) introduced S. 3631 in late July. The bill increases funding for states that are developing energy conversion plans. The Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) program also receives more funding. ARPA-E projects received $273 million last year. To help generate "green" jobs, the bill creates three grant programs. Skills Grants would increase the number of workers in low carbon energy industries. Regional Industry Grants would make existing businesses more "green," while Low Carbon Training Grants would fund customized industrial training programs.
In a press release citing the benefits to Washington State, Murray says S. 3631 "will help make sure that businesses across the country have access to a workforce that is trained and ready to fill the clean energy jobs we are working to create. As a nation, we need to end our dependence on foreign oil and make sure clean energy jobs are created right here in America."
Of the $4.5 billion in funding, about $4.2 billion would be new spending as $273 million is currently being spent on ARPA-E projects.
Least Expensive Bill of the Week
The Bill: H.R. 5679, End the Stimulus Advertisement Act
Annualized Savings: $10 million (first year savings)
The federal government has spent an estimated $20 million on road signs highlighting infrastructure projects that were funded by the stimulus bill. H.R. 5679 would discontinue the funding of these signs. According to the sponsor, Congressman Aaron Schock (IL-18), the End the Stimulus Advertisement Act "would prohibit funding for any additional stimulus signs, would require agencies to report on the amount already spent on signs and would recapture those funds for taxpayers by reducing the agencies administrative expenses by an amount equal to that spent on signs."
Shock's legislation would cut adminstrative expenses by 50 percent of the amount the agencies spent on advertising. The sponsor estimates $20 million has been spent nationwide on such advertising so the cuts would save $10 million. The saved funds would be deposited back in the US Treasury to reduce the deficit.
The Bill: H.R. 6078, 21st Century STEM for Girls and Underrepresented Minorities Act
Number of cosponsors: 20 Congressmen
STEM grants, or Science, Math, Engineering, and Technology grants, were created to encourage students to pursue careers in technical and/or science-based fields. Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey (CA-6) has introduced a bill to further target demographics not typically found in STEM careers. To persuade more girls and minorities to earn degrees and enter into STEM-industries, H.R. 6078 would help them overcome barriers to STEM entry by making parents aware of opportunities, providing for internship reimbursements to STEM entities, and helping educators learn more about STEM careers to pass on to their students.
The Department of Education would receive $50 million for FY 2011 and "such sums as necessary" in succeeding years.
Cosponsors include Congressmen, all Democrats, from different geographical areas.
The Bill: H.R. 4805, Formaldehyde Standards for Composite Wood Products Act
Annualized Cost: $1 million ($3 million over three years)
H.R. 4805 tightens emission standards for the makers, sellers, and importers of different wood products in the U.S. Formaldehyde, a chemical found in wood and used in wood production, can cause harm to humans if absorbed in large enough doses. The Environmental Protection Agency would be in charge of monitoring formaldehyde levels in wood products ranging from hardwood plywood to particle board. The Agency would also report to Congress on the wood industry's implementation of the new bill. According to the Congressional Budget Office, a majority of businesses dealing with wood and wood processing were complying with the new standard even before the new legislation was proposed.
Sponsor Congresswoman Doris Matsui (CA-5) said "the wood products industry along with environmental, health, and labor organizations worked for more than seven years with the State of California's Air Resources Board to establish lower standards for formaldehyde in composite wood products. … This legislation will level the playing field for our domestic manufactures [sic] by creating one national standard on formaldehyde emissions for both our domestic industry and foreign manufacturers to follow."
H.R. 4805 is estimated to cost about $3 million over the FY 2011-2013 period.