WASHINGTON – The House resumed work Tuesday after a weeklong pause when 11 Republicans, including two from Arizona, backed away from obstruction aimed at GOP leaders, clearing the way for votes to block regulations on guns and gas stoves.
It’s not clear what concessions the Republican rebels – including Reps. Andy Biggs of Gilbert and Eli Crane of Oro Valley – extracted from House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who was the target of their votes last week that brought the House to a halt.
But all 11 voted in line with fellow Republicans Tuesday, clearing the way for more votes, including the Gas Stove Protection and Freedom Act that prevents the federal government from implementing new restrictions on such stoves.
That measure passed 248-180, with 29 Democrats crossing the aisle, including Rep. Greg Stanton, D-Phoenix. The House is scheduled to vote on another gas-stove bill Wednesday, this one sponsored by Rep. Debbie Lesko, R-Peoria.
“I never would have thought that I would need to introduce legislation to protect American’s kitchen appliances,” Lesko said during floor debate on her bill. “But this only goes to show how out of touch this administration’s policies have become.”
Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., responded with disbelief.
“Let’s set the record straight with a little reality,” he said, quoting a survey that showed 3 in 5 Americans support more efficient appliances. Lesko’s bill, he said, was “putting politics over people” and showed the Republicans only wanted to “prop up their polluter friends.”
Pallone said that Republicans “think they can do the math, conduct the analysis and reach conclusions better than the subject-matter experts,” but that the government doesn’t work that way. It relies on experts employed by departments to make those decisions, he said.
Rep. Sydney Kamlager-Dove, D-Calif., was similarly exasperated.
“When I first heard about the Save Our Stoves Act, I thought it was a joke,” she said. “But it turns out the joke is on me because here I am debating it.”
While Democrats stressed that there are more pressing issues to deal with, Lesko said Republicans want to move on to them but the Biden administration forced their hand by “going after our gas stoves.”
Lesko’s bill would bar the Department of Energy from implementing efficiency standards that “would result in the unavailability of a product on account of the type of fuel” it uses. The bill approved Tuesday would prohibit the Consumer Product Safety Commission from regulating gas stoves or declaring them hazardous.
The controversy began in January when CPSC Commissioner Richard Trumka Jr. said in an interview that “every option is on the table” when it comes to reducing indoor air pollution, and that emissions from gas stoves have been linked to increased childhood asthma.
Trumka’s comments inflamed conservative lawmakers, who railed against what they called federal overreach, saying a ban would disproportionately affect low-income people. The CPSC, Biden administration and Democrats all insist that they have no intention of banning gas stoves.
About 30% of homes in Arizona use a natural gas stove, according to the Energy Information Administration. The fuel is most popular in California, where 70% of homes use natural gas in their cooking.
Even though every Republican voted for the Tuesday’s gas-stove bill, that was not the case last week when House conservatives blocked the bill with a procedural vote.
The 11 rebels said at the time that they were angry with the debt-limit bill McCarthy negotiated with the White House that headed off a potential default by the U.S. government. That deal turned fractures within the GOP into chasms and delayed last week’s vote until today, when it became a bellwether for Republican unity.
Neither Biggs nor Crane responded to requests for comment on why they changed their votes this week.