Waxman-Markey climate bill taken off the fast track by House leaders

“It doesn’t have to be this month,” Waxman said. “It could be July. But July is going to be awfully crowded with health care. We’ve got to get the bills to the floor and passed by the end of July. And that’s our goal. Both climate and health care.”

So says House Energy and Commerce Chair Henry Waxman (D-CA) about his big climate bill in today’s E&E News (subs. req’d).

While the House leadership definitely had been putting out the word that energy and climate legislation was on the fast track (see here), Pelosi appears to have reconsidered after meeting with key committee chairs, as E&E News PM (subs. req’d) reported last night.

Indeed, today we learned that the bill has a long way to go to get to the floor.  First, there’s Ways and Means Chairman Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.):

Rangel confirmed his intention to formally mark up the climate bill, rather than simply offer amendments on the floor or sign off completely on the measure. “We are going to have a real, true markup,” he told reporters. “It is in our jurisdiction, we owe it to the committee, and to the Congress to have a markup and to get on the floor and explain what we have done.”

Then we have the Aggies:

Rep. Earl Pomeroy (D-N.D.), who sits on both the Agriculture and Ways and Means committees, suggested that the entire legislative process could be slowed until Democratic leaders deal with the farm state lawmakers. And the Agriculture Committee members cannot move forward until they resolve their concerns with biofuels and U.S. EPA, Pomeroy said.

The good news is, she remains optimistic, which suggest the bill will get approved by the House this summer:

Speaking with reporters in the Capitol, Pelosi said she saw no significant hurdles to moving the climate bill approved last month by the Energy and Commerce Committee.

I’m optimistic we’ll be able to move forward in a timely fashion so that our legislation will pass the House and send a clear message about Copenhagen,” Pelosi said, referring to U.N. negotiations this December on an international climate treaty. “But I’m not putting any deadlines on it. It’ll go to the floor when we are ready. They will pass bills out of their committees when they are ready.”

“I’ll leave it up to the chairmen to talk about their plans and how they’re moving to the floor, having their own discussions in marking up the bill,” she said.

Well, Copenhagen is in December, so that is a big walk back timing-wise.  Also, the buzz had been that committees might not have to pass the bill out, but merely work with House Energy and Commerce Chair Henry Waxman (D-CA) on a manager’s amendment that contained agreed-upon changes.

If the bill actually has to be voted on Agriculture or Ways and Means, the process will slow down sharply.  Still, key players are still floating the possibility of a house vote at the end of June:

Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), a lead co-author of the climate legislation, confirmed today that Democrats are still weighing a fast-paced schedule that would lead to floor debate before the Fourth of July recess — all while juggling health care. “Could be,” Waxman said. “Late June. Early July.”

Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), the co-sponsor of H.R. 2454, said he would remain an active player with Peterson and Rangel as the debate advances.

“The bill that Chairman Waxman and I constructed is the central vehicle,” Markey told reporters. “But all of these other committees have very important roles to play. Ways and Means and Agriculture are at the top of the list. We will have to work closely with the committees to produce legislation that reflects the consensus that has to be produced in order to move something of this historic magnitude.”

I think the smart money is now drifting towards a House vote after the 4th of July, since the House recesses from June 29 to July 3 (full 2009 House calendar here).  But the summer recess start August 3, and that doesn’t leave a lot of time to handle that other important complicated piece of legislation — health care:

Democratic leaders also pushed back against questions that Congress and the Obama administration cannot deal in tandem with energy and climate change. “The president has been unrelenting in his support on climate change moving, as he has been on health care,” Markey said. “These are priorities 1 and 1a for both the speaker and the president.”

“There’s time for both if we set our minds to it,” Baucus added. “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.”

Obama plans an aggressive push for his health care reform package later this week, prompting a question during today’s White House press briefing if the president would do the same on global warming.

“Well, cap and trade seems ahead of health care at the moment,” Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs replied. “I think that you’ve heard the president not just throughout his few months here at the White House, but throughout the campaign talk passionately about both issues. And I think we continue to be heartened by progress that’s being made in Congress to address how to make ourselves more energy independent and protect our planet, and how do we drive down the costs for families and small businesses struggling with the rising cost of health care.”

8 Responses to Waxman-Markey climate bill taken off the fast track by House leaders

  1. ecostew says:

    More on the climate bill:

  2. Seth Kaplan says:

    The ever-present WW II metaphor is inescapable – in this case a line from Ernest Hemingway’s pre-war essay, “Notes on the Next War”: “Not this August, nor this September, but soon, very soon.”

    And to complete the metaphor sweep the question is whether W-M is now the equivalent of the weak Civil Rights Act of 1957 or the 1963 bill that has never really been fundamentally changed?

    And, Joe, your voice dictation strikes again as you have a “houseboat” in the middle of the post when you meant “house vote”

  3. Joe says:

    “floating the possibility of a houseboat” — that’s funny!

  4. K L Reddington says:

    “Earlier this year, Pelosi said she was not involved in the day-to-day happenings on the controversial bill. But now that it has cleared the Energy and Commerce Committee, Pelosi is on a mission to get the climate change bill — her flagship issue — to the House floor.

    ecostew Says:

    June 3rd, 2009 at 7:59 am
    More on the climate bill:

    In their letter, the agricultural groups again stated that USDA should be granted control over administration of any carbon offset programs for agriculture and forestry, rather than have such programs managed by the EPA. Any carbon program for agriculture should also recognize ‘early actors’ who have worked to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions or sequester carbon.”

    Very interesting. The EPA wants to get the USDA out of the way.

    Post poning the bill may give a few time to actually read it one time?

    It hit me as nasty in that some farmer in Brazil and get carbon offsets but not so in america.
    A farmer can get a tax from the epa for using farm equipment but his corn producing 1 ton of O2 per acre is not elgible for an offset. These farmers are highly educated. They wil tell their democrat Representatives about this. July 4 picnic time.

    Thisi is about power

    Thanks ecostew for the link.

  5. Phillip Huggan says:

    The Arctic will be ice free in the summer by 2015. This may be the last chance to get a “controlled” sampling of how the influenza ecology among migrating birds functions. No time for delays.

  6. James H says:

    “The Arctic will be ice free in the summer by 2015. ”

    What stakes are you wagering on this? So much faith put into computer models (that haven’t been able to predict temperature trends even after only 9 years or whatever since IPCC AR4). I’d maybe give you even odds on ice-free or not, as many scientists have postulated that the earth is headed into 30 years of cooling. So some computer models say one thing, and other analyses say another. Who knows what will really happen? If cap-and-trade passes, but we enter a cooling phase anyway, do I get a refund?

  7. Phillip Huggan says:

    I’ll bet my share of Chrysler. Rather own Zenn anyway.

  8. Dave D says:

    One more prediction – One Wealthy Conservative will buy one Socialist Rag like the NY Times or the LA Times or USA Today, as they are all struggling and headed towards extinction and can be had cheap. This new Paper will prosper – as has FOX NEWS – for about 5-7 years at a huge cost to rest of the libby new media, before all the printed papers find their natural ending and are only posted on-line.

    This will save trees, but that is pointless, trees have NEVER been in danger. As paper industries have always re-planted and have increased their recycle practices exponentially over the last 50 years. Asking for a plastic bag at the grocery store – sort of pointless.

    Final comment: I love the Earth, the lunatics that claim to represent it’s interests, ignore facts, misrepresnt facts, and move goal posts out of hubris (or at lower levels, from ignorance), and continue to miss the real issues where we could and should have impact.