We would appear to be closing in on a final deal and ultimate passage of the Waxman-Markey climate and clean energy bill by the House. E&E News Reports (subs. req’d):
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) yesterday said he expected a floor victory, although he added that no scheduling decisions have been made.
“I think we’ll get the votes on energy,” Hoyer said. “But you know how it is, you’ve got to work it and figure out who’s on first, and what triggers this guy to say ‘no’ or triggers this guy to say ‘yes.’”
Waxman and other Democrats from the Energy and Commerce Committee are pressing for a floor debate before lawmakers leave Washington at the end of next week for the Independence Day recess.
As for the key negotiations with the agricultural committee, Waxman expects to wrap that up by tomorrow:
“I don’t see it should go for any longer than that,” Waxman told reporters yesterday when asked if he would set himself a deadline to finish negotiations with House Agriculture Chairman Collin Peterson (D-Minn.).
The two powerful House Democrats said Thursday that they had made “good progress” in their talks on the climate bill, H.R. 2454, following an hourlong meeting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). But Waxman said yesterday that he has not spoken to Peterson since that session as the congressmen handed the negotiations over to their staffs.
Waxman declined to comment on the details of the climate talks, though the farm state lawmakers have not been shy in stating their problems with provisions in the bill that give U.S. EPA the principal oversight role for the carbon offset market. Peterson also is against a draft EPA regulation that would hold the ethanol industry accountable for “indirect land use,” such as crop conversion in other countries.
House Democratic leaders are working behind the scenes to shore up support among the farm state lawmakers through language that could be added to the bill in a manager’s amendment package. It is unclear, though, if those changes will be enough.
“We’re getting there,” Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) said yesterday. “It’s a close vote.”
Clyburn said his whip operation started two weeks ago in preparation for the floor debate, with a large focus on the farmers. “I think there are some real concerns that the rural communities have, especially the co-ops, as to how they are faring, and the states that they represent, how they fare in all of this as opposed to larger states,” Clyburn said. “And so we’ve got to work out all of those equity issues.”
It no longer looks any other committee will be marking up the bill:
Rep. Earl Pomeroy (D-N.D.) said he wants House Democratic leaders to shift their focus entirely to the health care debate. The nine-term congressman also predicted Peterson would not move in any formal way to vote on Waxman’s legislation. “I don’t expect a markup in Ag because it would not be passed out favorably,” Pomeroy said.
Democrats on the Ways and Means Committee are also expected to sidestep any formal action on the climate bill as they keep their attention entirely on President Obama’s health care reform package.
“I don’t see any indication the committee will mark up the bill,” said Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas), a senior member of the Ways and Means Committee. “It’s very unfortunate.”
So if a deal can be struck to satisfy Peterson, the possibility of a floor vote next week remains open.