House Turns Out the Lights on Bulb Ban

The House of Representatives voted to preserve a scheduled phase out of incandescent light bulbs Monday evening.

The Better Use of Light Bulbs (BULB) Act, would have rescinded efficiency standards for incandescent bulbs included in a 2007 energy bill.

233 members voted yes and 193 cast nay votes. But the House required a supermajority to approve this particular package. In this case, it would have needed 285 yea votes to pass.

Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT) voted present.

The measure gained support after the 2010 elections, as tea party Republicans seized on the prohibition as an example of government overreach.

The bill's sponsor, Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, says that the increased efficiency standards have the government picking winners and losers in the lighting market.

"To take off the market something that's cheap, effective, and average use costs two or three cents a week to use seems to me to be overkill by the federal government," Barton said of the move away from incandescent bulbs. Supporters of the bill also claim that the compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs designed to replace incandescent bulbs are too expensive and don't work as well as their 19th century competitor."Here's the bottom line, those of us at a certain age, under a compact florescent bulb, we don't look as good as an incandescent bulb," said Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Texas, "The American people should be able to choose what type of light bulb they use in their home. They should not be constrained to all the romance of a Soviet stairwell when they go home in the evening."

Democrats were quick to point out that the bulb ban wasn't their idea. "Our current (Energy and Commerce) Chairman Mr. (Fred) Upton (R-Mich.) introduced the bill to set the standards. our former Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) supported it along with many other republicans, and finally President George W. Bush signed these standards into law," noted Rep. Mike Doyle, D-Penn.

The energy efficiency law Doyle cites passed the House with more than 300 votes in the House and over 80 in the Senate.

Upton co-wrote the light bulb language in that energy bill with former Rep. Jane Harman, D-Calif. Action on the BULB Act was seen by some as a concession to the loser of the Energy and Commerce Chairmanship, Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, who highlighted Upton's light legislation during their leadership contest last year. Barton has since thanked Upton for taking action on the proposal.

The Obama administration issued a statement announcing its opposition to the repeal, saying it would "result in negative economic consequences for U.S. consumers and the economy."

The statement of administration policy issued by the Office of Management and Budget cited Department of Energy figures that say the law "could collectively save U.S. households nearly $6 billion in 2015 alone." That's because even though CFL bulbs cost more off the shelf, they last longer and use less energy than incandescent bulbs, and could ultimately save the consumer money over the light's lifetime.

The legislation, considered under an expedited rules procedure, required a two-thirds majority for passage.

Despite its failure in the House, a way forward in the Democratically-controlled Senate is uncertain. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairman Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., supports the current efficiency standards and is unlikely to support action on a similar measure in committee.

Fox News Producer John Brandt contributed to this report