House panel to approve energy and climate bill: Reuters poll

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) has the votes to get his landmark energy and climate legislation approved by the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Reuters reports today:

Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee have enough votes to approve historic legislation to cap and reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, according to a Reuters survey of specific lawmakers on the panel.The legislation, which Democratic leaders plan to have the committee vote on this week, would e heart of the legislation is a “cap and trade” system that would gradually reduce the amount of greenhouse gases from utilities, steelmakers, oil refineries and other companies by requiring them to have permits to spew their emissions.

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Of the 59 members on the House committee, Reuters found that 30 lawmakers, all of them Democrats, would definitely vote “yes” or were likely to support the bill. The survey results were based on comments from the lawmakers themselves or from congressional staff on where their bosses stand on the bill.

That would be a very big deal since the Energy and Commerce Committee is considered more conservative than the House as a whole on energy and climate issues — stuffed as it is with members representing traditional (i.e. polluting) energy industries. It would mean that Waxman need not make any more compromises to get the bill passed out of committee. It would also be a tremendous political accomplishment given that six days ago, the ranking Republican, Joe Barton (R-TX), said “I don’t think they can get it out of committee.”

And here’s a surprise — it’s possible the bill might even get one Republican vote:

The panel’s top Republican, Representative Joe Barton, has implied that every Republican member of the committee would vote against the bill. But at least one, Mary Bono Mack of California, might support the bill. She is a “potential yes and a potential no,” according to an aide. Reuters did not survey other Republican members of the committee.

Still some Dem fence-sitters, but one hopes that as they see passage is inevitable, they will support their leadership.

Six committee Democrats in the Reuters survey expressed concerns about the bill, showed little support for the measure or were still undecided. They were: John Barrow of Georgia, Eliot Engel of New York, Jim Matheson of Utah, Charlie Melancon of Louisiana, Mike Ross of Arkansas and Zack Space of Ohio.

If this story is accurate, kudos to Waxman and Markey.