"Breaking: Rangel agrees to June 19 deadline for climate bill from House Ways and Means, Ag Chair Peterson says “We’re not trying to stop this bill.”"
UPDATE: I’ll excerpt the E&E News PM story, “Pelosi reverses course, slaps June 19 deadline on committees” (subs. req’d) below the jump.
Washington Insight/Energy news brief from the Washington Times just reported:
Chairman Charles Rangel of the House Ways and Means Committee said he learned today that his panel has a deadline of June 19 to complete its version of the cap-and-trade bill now pending in the House.
The New York Democrat told reporters, “We’re going to make it” — referring to the deadline, which he said he was informed about by his staff. The staff apparently had gotten word of the deadline from the House Democratic leadership….
Rangel is expected to press for rebates of some kind to help low-income families cope with the higher energy costs that would come with a cap-and-trade system. Rangel said he would meet with his committee members daily until the deadline is met.
This still suggests to me that the bill is not going to be taken to the House floor the very next week, though it is a very tight timeframe if Rangel really intends to “formally mark up the climate bill” as E&E News had reported (see here).
Today’s E&E News PM has much more:
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has given a June 19 deadline to the eight committee chairmen with shared jurisdiction over a sweeping energy and climate bill, setting the stage for a possible floor debate before the end of the month, several top Democrats said today.
Ways and Means Chairman Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) and Education and Labor Chairman George Miller (D-Calif.) both confirmed that Pelosi wants them to act within the next 15 days on the comprehensive measure.
“We’re under the hammer,” Rangel told reporters following an hourlong meeting in the Capitol with more than two dozen of his Democratic committee members.
Pelosi yesterday told reporters that she had not set a schedule for the committee leaders. “I’m not putting any deadline on it,” she said. “It’ll go to the floor when we are ready”….
“You get into trouble with deadlines when the task at hand is all doable,” Miller said. “This is all doable. The Commerce Committee surprised everybody with the bill they put together. So this has now become very doable.”
A House Democratic leadership aide explained that Pelosi’s comments yesterday were referring to a deadline for consideration on the floor, and not for the committees. “The committees’ referral date is to keep the process moving,” the aide added. “The date could be extended if needed”….
“I think it’s safe to say there are some strong differences of opinion, and frankly, the committee is not playing with the strongest hand on this issue,” said Rep. Artur Davis (D-Ala.), one of the Ways and Means Committee members who prefers moving health care first over climate change. “That constrains the factors around the differences of opinion.”
Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), a close Pelosi ally and also the head of the House Democrats’ 2010 campaign operations, predicted Rangel would make quick work of the bill. “I don’t expect the Ways and Means Committee to do any radical surgery on the bill,” Van Hollen said. “I think there are some areas we may want to look at. But they don’t go to the core of the approach of the Energy and Commerce Committee”….
Agriculture Chairman Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) stands out as the other Democrat with significant concerns about the climate bill. Peterson today met with Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) for about 45 minutes to run through his issues with the legislation, which include oversight of the offset market, free emission allowances for rural electric cooperatives and the definition of biomass in a renewable fuel standard.
“We’re not trying to stop this bill,” Peterson told reporters. “We’re trying to make it so we believe it’s workable. That’s where we’re coming from. We’re going to have a bill, something from the standpoint of agriculture, that’s going to work. That makes sense. That’s what we’re trying to accomplish here.”
Staff for Peterson and Waxman are now going over the Agriculture Committee chairman’s concerns, but that does not necessarily mean the panel will hold its own markup on the bill.
“When I said, ‘Well, if we get this resolved, maybe we can mark this up next week,’ they about had a heart attack,” Peterson said. “So I think it’s problematic. But we’re engaged and we’re working on it. It’ll take whatever time it takes.”
Natural Resources Chairman Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.) said today that he is not concerned about Pelosi’s June 19 deadline, explaining that he had enough time to address language in the legislation that addresses the role of biomass on federal lands. “It’s going to be difficult, but I think we can manage it,” Rahall said.
Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) today said Democrats were considering floor action before the Fourth of July recess despite concerns from some members that the better strategy is to focus now on health care.
“I think the speaker’s trip to China made her a little more interested in moving it,” said Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.). “So we’ll hear a little bit more talk about it. Maybe some shifting away from health care for a moment.”