Posted by: Susan | June 23, 2008

The Best Speech By a Congressman (This Month)

It was a floor speech on June 11 by Congressman Ted Poe of Texas.  As background, I’m sure you’re aware that Congress, in its allseeing imperial we-know-what’s-best-for-you wisdom, has passed a law outlawing the incandescent lightbulb effective in 2014.  We’re all supposed to use those curly shaped fluorescent bulbs from that point on.


Now, I don’t know where Rep. Poe stood during the vote on this particular bill (it was part of an energy bill passed earlier this year), but he made a speech pointing out the simple fact that the U.S. Constitution doesn’t authorize Congress to do anything remotely like banning the use of a product that has been safely (and cheaply) in use for at least 100 years in favor of a Chinese import that may pose significant health and safety risks.  I quote:

“Madam Speaker, I have a Constitution here and, like most Members of Congress, I carry it with me. I’ve read it through and through, but I don’t see anywhere in the U.S. Constitution that it gives the government the power to control the type of light bulbs used in Dime Box, Texas or any other place in the United States. Besides the lack of constitutional authority, let me discuss these light bulbs further.

 ” Nothing in Congress seems to be easy, and that phrase is certainly true with these CFL light bulbs. These light bulbs contain mercury, so they have to be disposed of in a certain way. According to EPA rules, you’re supposed to take them to a local recycling center. Thanks to Congress, nothing is easy.

 ”  If you throw them out at home, you’re supposed to seal the bulb in two plastic bags and place them in the outside trash; otherwise, the bulb may break and pollute the landfill, of all things.

 ”  CFLs are made of glass, so they’re fragile. If one breaks it or drops it, you have to follow simple rules, thanks to Congress. And according to the EPA, here’s what do you if you break one of these light bulbs, and I quote. “Have people and pets leave the room, and don’t let anyone walk through the area.” We must evacuate the room, Madam Speaker.

”   I continue. “Open a window and leave the room for 15 minutes or more. Shut off the central heating and air conditioning system. Carefully scoop up glass fragments and powder using stiff paper or cardboard and place them in a glass jar with a metal lid.” Obviously, that’s readily available.

”   I continue. “Use sticky tape, such as duct tape, to pick up any remaining small grass fragments and powder.” Of course we do have lots of duct tape in Texas, so that’s no problem. But we’re not through yet.

 ”  I continue to quote. “Wipe the area clean with a damp paper towel or disposable wet wipes and place them in the glass jar or plastic bag. Do not use a vacuum or a broom.”


“If you break a light bulb in a high rise where the windows don’t open, will the EPA light bulb police haul us off to jail because of improper disposal procedures?

”   If I dropped this light bulb, we would have to evacuate the House of Representatives, according to the EPA light bulb law. Have we gone a bit too far with this nonsense?

 ” Thanks to Congress, we’re making what is simple very difficult. And besides, these light bulbs are expensive, and using them may fade photographs on the wall.

”   Now, Madam Speaker, I’m going to carefully remove one of these light bulbs from a box that contains all these warnings on the outside. And this is one of those CFL light bulbs that Congress is requiring all Americans to use by 2014.

”   There’s more to the requirements of using these. It says here, and I quote, “these light bulbs may cause interference to radios, televisions, wireless telephones and remote controls.” Now we’re in trouble for Monday night football because we’re going to have to turn out the lights so there’s no interference with our TV.

 ”  We can also thank Congress for giving more money to China. This light bulb, it says right here, with all the warnings on it, is made in China. And Madam Speaker, they are only made in China. They’re not made in the United States. We import every one of these things.

”   You know, over the past year we’ve seen Chinese pet food kill our dogs and cats; Chinese lead paint is poisoning our children, and now Chinese light bulbs that contain mercury can be harmful to our health. Doesn’t this bother anybody?”


“Oh, I yearn for the day when America took care of Americans by developing our own abundant natural resources like coal and natural gas and crude oil to provide affordable energy to America. But those days have gone the way of Edison’s incandescent light bulb. We might as well turn out the lights, the party’s over.”

I don’t know about you, but I plan to let my congresspeople know that ……

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