Could the bills against gas stove rules become law?
Mia McCarthy, E & E Daily, July 12, 2023
Many Democrats have scoffed at legislation to protect gas stoves, but some Republicans see the bills as having enough bipartisan support for approval.
No, the war over gas stoves isn’t over. Yes, Republicans think they can win it.
The debate over whether to limit or regulate the use of gas stoves looked like the latest front in the national culture wars. But supporters of Republican-backed bills on the issue think they may earn President Joe Biden’s signature.
Rep. Kelly Armstrong’s (R-N.D.) “Gas Stove Protection and Freedom Act,” H.R. 1615, looks to preempt rulemaking from the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Rep. Debbie Lesko’s (R-Ariz.) “Save Our Gas Stoves Act,” H.R. 1640, would prevent the Department of Energy from proceeding with gas stove efficiency rules.
“Consumers don’t want the government taking away the features on gas stoves that they like and use. That is not the role of the U.S. government,” Lesko said during floor debate in June.
Democrats — and even some Republicans — considered the bills largely symbolic. When conservative Republicans derailed the House agenda last month in protest, Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) called the gas stove proposals “messaging bills.”
Still, every House Republican voted for the bills, and 29 Democrats crossed the political aisle to support the measures.
Freshman Rep. Jared Moskowitz of Florida, one of the Democrats who voted for the legislation, wasn’t optimistic about their future.
“I don’t think this is ever going to become law,” he said. “President Biden would veto it.”
But in a statement of policy, the White House refrained from issuing a veto threat, despite registering the president’s opposition.
The White House has tried to rebut Republican claims the administration wants to ban natural gas stoves following comments from a member of the CPSC.
Indeed, the CPSC is not pursuing gas stove rulemaking. DOE’s proposal would only apply to new appliances, but could block the sale of roughly half the gas stoves currently on the market.
“While the Administration has been clear that it does not support any attempt to ban the use of gas stoves, it strongly opposes H.R. 1615 and H.R. 1640,” the White House wrote in a statement absent of the word “veto.”
Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chair Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) is supporting companion legislation for both House-passed gas stove bills.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) teamed up with Manchin to introduce a Senate version of the “Gas Stove Protection and Freedom Act,” S. 240.
Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) and other Republicans teamed up with Manchin on the Senate companion to the “Save Our Gas Stoves Act,” S. 1859.
“As I’ve said before, the federal government has no business telling Americans how to cook their dinner,” Manchin said in a statement.
“While I appreciate that these rules would only apply to new stoves, my view is that it’s part of a broader, administration-wide regulatory effort to eliminate fossil fuels,” said Manchin.
Democratic Sen. Jon Tester of Montana, who is also up for reelection in a red state and has opposed other administration rules this year, wasn’t up on the stove bills.
Sen. Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) similarly said, “I’ll take a look to see what comes over to the Senate and ultimately what we have to be voting on, rather than theorizing on it.”
Very few bills will pass by themselves during a divided Congress with tight party margins in each chamber. But gas stove riders could find their way into must-pass measures, including spending legislation.
House Dems all over the place
Even though 29 Democrats voted for the House bills, only 21 of those members supported both measures. Others took their pick for various reasons.
Rep. Gabe Vasquez (D-N.M.), who represents a traditionally swing district, voted against CPSC rulemaking but not against the DOE proposal.
“As a Latino, we flip our tortillas on a gas stove,” said Vasquez. “So this is a little bit of a personal issue to me is that we have consumer choice, but that we also have the technology to make people’s lives healthier and our climate cleaner.”
Rep. Susie Lee (D-Nev.) said the restaurants in her district use gas stoves, so the bill against a hypothetical CPSC ban seemed like a bad thing to oppose.
Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), who also backed restricting the CPSC, said he owned one gas stove and one electric stove. He joked he gave one vote for each of the appliances.
A Democratic staffer whose boss voted for the bill against the DOE proposal but opposed the CPSC limits said the lawmaker didn’t want to restrict the consumer agency’s authority to protect people.
Moskowitz voted for both bills after proposing many sarcastic amendments the Rules Committee didn’t make in order, such as unveiling a gas stove statue at the Capitol and creating a “gas stove czar.”
When asked why he voted for bills he seemed to be poking fun at, Moskowitz said he wanted to make clear to Republicans that Democrats do not want to ban gas stoves.
“We’re not interested in banning gas stoves,” Moskowitz said. “I prove that in my vote. All they want to do is take these votes and put it in a mailer and try to put out misinformation.”
Rep. Colin Allred (D-Texas), who is challenging Cruz, also voted for both bills, touting his state’s natural gas industry and consumer choice.
Allred said of the Senate, “They may surprise us.”