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Democrats Grow Confident of Cap-and-Trade Win

By Paul Kane and Ben Pershing
House Democratic leaders said today they are increasingly confident that they have enough votes to win passage this weekend of climate change legislation, informing former vice president Al Gore that he was not needed in the Capitol to win over wavering lawmakers.

After months of intra-party disputes over a hallmark piece of President Obama's agenda, Democrats crafted a series of compromises on the legislation, known as cap-and-trade, that won support from key corners of the caucus. Resisting declaring victory, the top leaders were optimistic they would pass the legislation Friday or Saturday.

"Well you never know until you take the vote, but we are making progress and I'm very pleased," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told reporters at her weekly press conference.

House Majority Leader Steny M. Hoyer (D-Md.), coming from a meeting with the vote-counting team, said Democrats were "over the number right now that we feel comfortable" with, suggesting that they have at least the minimum number of 218 votes needed to pass the legislation. But the goal was to pad the margin to assure that there was wiggle room for any last-minute absences or vote changers.

To feel completely confident, Hoyer said in an interview with The Washington Post: "We've got to get some additional votes to get to 225."

Any level of confidence on the issue is a remarkable turnabout for Democrats, who five weeks ago were locked in internal disputes pitting coastal liberals pushing for hard caps on carbon emissions against Rust Belt and farm-state Democrats warning of the economic impact such an imposition would have on their local economies. In late May Obama summoned members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which drafted the 1,201-page bill, to the White House to push for a speedy resolution, in part so that win or lose the legislative decks would be cleared later this summer for the House to take up his health-care reform proposal.

The legislation -- which Republicans have dubbed "cap-and-tax", warning of higher energy costs -- establishes a complex system allowing businesses that are under their cap for greenhouse gas emissions to trade credits to heavier polluting businesses. It includes $7.5 billion in "green bonds" for a new federal financing agency called the Clean Energy Deployment Administration, extra emission allowances for politically powerful rural electric cooperatives, greater flexibility for states that want to use free allowances for mass transit, and tweaks benefiting a range of companies, including algae-based biofuel producers and major petroleum refiners.

Even if Democrats win in the House, the cap-and-trade system faces an uphill fight in the Senate, where it will need a 60-vote super-majority for passage. The Senate environment committee hopes to take up legislation in late July, with Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) saying today a bill could be on the floor some time this fall.

In the House, Hoyer acknowledged that the final hurdle was winning over Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), who demanded the Agriculture Department, not the Environmental Protection Agency, oversee an offset program for farmers who adopt conservation practices that keep carbon dioxide stored in the soil. After tense negotiations that stretched several weeks, leadership gave in late Tuesday to Peterson's demands, bringing with him "a significant number" of votes, Hoyer said.

"I think without Peterson, it would have been tough," he added.

Pelosi was similarly complimentary of Peterson's efforts, searching for the right words of praise before settling on "great."

Democrats still expect a large number of their own caucus to oppose the legislation, but with 256 members of their caucus, Pelosi and Hoyer can spare almost 40 defections and still pass the bill. Originally Gore -- whose work on climate change won a Nobel Peace Prize -- was expected in the Capitol this morning for a pep talk to wavering Democrats, but Pelosi said there was no need.

"It's a question of what was energy efficient for the vice president. We were narrowing the list of the undecideds and thought that perhaps on another occasion we could call upon his time to come here," she told reporters. Back in Tennessee, Gore is phoning lawmakers who want his input on the legislation.

Republicans said Gore's absence was a sign of weakness and that he needed to desperately work liberals who opposed the concessions to Peterson and conservative Democrats who still thought the bill would be an economic hit to their communities. The GOP's campaign arm vowed to hold Democrats accountable in the 2010 elections for the votes they cast on the measure.

"How is a Democrat sitting in a swing district going to tell their constituents with a straight face that they were undecided on whether or not to support a national energy tax until Al Gore or Nancy Pelosi convinced them it was the right thing to do? The cast of characters forcing this vote are putting dozens of Democrat House members into a position they won't be able to defend come 2010," said Ken Spain, spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee.

By Ben Pershing  |  June 25, 2009; 3:32 PM ET
Categories:  Agenda , Dem. Leaders , House  
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Next: Thune Climbs GOP Leadership Ladder


Seems that the Doom & Glum Republicans are at it again. When are they going to see that America is just not going to buy their same old tired arguments any more. This massive, massive climate bill is really just a baby step in the right direction for this country. The Republicans & their big business backers can run all the "pretty girl" ads they want talking about the wonders of oil, gas & coal. The American people just aren't buying it anymore. So Climate Change is just something somebody made up. Maybe so, but today in Houston it was still over 100 degrees. Again! Folks it's hot here & it seems to be getting hotter every year. On the Evening News they said we should turn UP our thermostats & use more fans. Sure thing people.
Big Oil > Yes, America wants electric cars or cars that get 100 miles to a gallon. If this happens, you WILL charge $100 per gallon of gas. The point is, you blood suckers will get your money one way or the other. If everybody in America makes their houses super-energy efficient, the electric companies will still raise their rates to maintain their mega profit margins. The point of all this is why can't we start taking steps to save this little planet? You Republicans whine on Fox all day long about things like the....well really just about everything. Keep rowing upstream & we'll see who loses big time in the mid-term elections.

Posted by: JoeNTx | June 25, 2009 9:47 PM | Report abuse

I guess Obama and his accomplices figure they have bribed enough people to force us to swallow their scam!

No patriotic and informed American can support Obama's cap and trade, a huge Ponzy scheme that will kill the U.S. economy.

Cap and Trade "would be the equivalent of an atomic bomb directed at the U.S. economy—all without any scientific justification," says famed climatologist Dr. S. Fred Singer. It would significantly increase taxes and the cost of energy, forcing many companies to close, thus increasing unemployment, poverty and dependence.

Cap and trade represents huge taxes and cost increases, which will hurt mostly the poor and the middle class while further empowering and enriching Obama and his fraudulent billionaire friends (Gore, Soros, Goldman Sachs, Obama’s Chicago Climate Exchange friends, GE, the United Nations, etc.)-- all at our expense and at the expense of our children and grandchildren.

Posted by: AntonioSosa | June 25, 2009 11:25 PM | Report abuse

More than 700 international scientists dissent over the man-made global warming claims. They are now more than 13 times the number of UN scientists (52) who authored the media-hyped IPCC 2007 Summary for Policymakers.

Additionally, more than 30,000 American scientists have signed onto a petition that states, "There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gases is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth's atmosphere and disruption of the Earth's climate."

Posted by: AntonioSosa | June 25, 2009 11:26 PM | Report abuse

Those brainwashed to the point of wanting to destroy the economy to "prevent global warming" are behaving like the most primitive human beings who were duped into believing that human sacrifices would ensure them good weather. Human beings don't have the power to control climate! And killing the economy will not help the environment. Poor countries can't protect the environment. Just look at Haiti!

Please do what you can to defend your family and your country. Write to your representatives and ask them to defend us from Obama’s criminal scheme --

Posted by: AntonioSosa | June 25, 2009 11:28 PM | Report abuse

We've been writing on Waxman-Markey issues for several months. We've had a few postings have really generated considerable interest, including:

*** ***

*** ***

*** ***

*** ***

Even if Waxman-Markey passes, the political backlash is going to be considerable, as more & more voters realize the legislation does nothing to reduce temperatures but will end up costing trillions. This is not a good combination for any politician to defend.

C3H Editor, ("global warming" updates)

Posted by: C3HEditor | June 26, 2009 8:28 AM | Report abuse

More than 700 International Scientists ...
More than 13 times ....
More than 30,000 American Scientists ....

Just one question > Are those the same Scientists that the Tobacco Companies used to use to tell us that smoking was safe?

Posted by: JoeNTx | June 26, 2009 8:57 AM | Report abuse

This is a scam. It will be further driven up the colon of the American people when Obama and Congress sign up for an international taxing cap and tax scam at the Copenhagen Accord. We will end up sending trillions overseas to third world countries.

2010 cannot come soon enough to send all of these Spendocrats out of office.

Posted by: Bubbette1 | June 26, 2009 11:35 AM | Report abuse

Where can we find a list of the Buzzards in Congress that just voted for this? Please make the information available so that people can see who to vote against in 2010.

Posted by: Bubbette1 | June 26, 2009 1:01 PM | Report abuse

The Coal Pollution Supporters and Obstructionists here are transparent in their attempts to promote Fear and Ignorance to undermine our country and our ability to create Jobs and be Globally competitive. Veterans who serve our country with blood deserve better. You want the USA to live on Sand piles built on Coal, fossil fuels, Credit default swaps with high risk, and ignorance. A better future is built on Renewable Energy, conserving fresh water, education, and Green Energy Jobs; all of which are opposed by Coal and Oil lobbyists here who serve as mouthpieces for the worst elements of our country. The light is on you and you've been outed. The rest of the country will fight and thrive with or without you, and in spite of you, for a better future for generations to come.

Posted by: liveride | June 26, 2009 6:05 PM | Report abuse

I find it interesting that JoeNTX is complaining about South Texas heat. In the summertime it is HOT in South Texas , and has been so for as long as I remember, and I have lived in San Antonio for a long time. This economy killing bill barely eaked by in the House, and I believe the ones who will be suprised in the 2010 elections will be the Democrats when they are voted out. The fact is this bill was passed, once gain, without having been read. Incidentally , Fox News ratings are through the roof because that is where viewers are tuning in to educate themselves about the truth on what is going on with all the legislation that is being rushed through, because "We need to do this now or the world will end tomorrow." That may be true, but
don't you think lawmakers should spend a little more time and at least read the bill on such legislation that will increase the cost of energy to all consumers in these trying economic times?

Posted by: mb2150 | June 29, 2009 6:40 PM | Report abuse

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