Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., is just one of many Republicans vying to take over the chairmanship of the Energy and Commerce Committee when the GOP reclaims the majority in the House of Representatives in January. However, many outspoken conservatives have recently come out in opposition to Upton’s bid, citing his controversial support for a ban on incandescent light bulbs as just one of many objectionable positions the Michigan Republican has taken contrary to conservatives’ traditional limited government mantra.
But now, faced with growing criticism and mounting opposition to a possible chairmanship, Upton is hinting that he may be flipping the switch on his own incandescent bulb ban. The Washington Times reports:
Three years after he led the charge to require consumers to ditch their comfortable old incandescent lights in favor of those twisty CFL bulbs, Rep. Fred Upton now wants to be the man to help undo that law as the next chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. …
“We have heard the grass roots loud and clear, and will have a hearing early next Congress,” said Mr. Upton, a Michigan Republican who is facing several others in his party in a bid to earn the gavel of the powerful committee. “The last thing we wanted to do was infringe upon personal liberties – and this has been a good lesson that Congress does not always know best.”
Upton is facing pressure from conservative bloggers, tea partiers and conservative organizations, including FreedomWorks who has launched the “Down With Upton” campaign. At press time, more than 35,000 individuals had signed a petition urging the House Republican Steering Committee to oppose Upton’s bid for chairman.
A Steering Committee vote is scheduled for Tuesday to decide who will chair the various committees in the upcoming 112th Congress.
Is Upton’s apparent backtrack on the light bulb ban the mark of a commanding leader listening to his grassroots constituents, or is it a symptom of a weak-kneed legislator who leans according to political winds? What do you think?