On the Passage of Waxman-Markey
On Friday, the Waxman-Markey climate change bill stumbled across the finish line in the House. Supporters had been hoping for a 20-30 vote margin. They secured, instead, a seven-vote win for a nearly broken bill.
The optimistic take on this comes from longtime congressional watcher Stan Collender. "The ultimate political value for the White House is that it was able to get the bill adopted at all but still allow 44 Democrats to vote against it," he writes. "Not asking Democrats to walk a political plank will pay huge dividends later this year and in the 2010 elections because those members who needed to vote against it were able to do so."
I'm skeptical of arguments that can too easily turn in either direction. This outcome, Collender says, "shows the White House still really knows how to work the Hill." But if the administration had managed a 60-vote margin for cap-and-trade, no one would see that as a massive strategic miscalculation. My sense is that this looks like what it is: a slim margin for a weakened bill. And now it goes to the Senate.
What further worries me is that the bill is all inside-game right now. I'd be surprised if 20 percent of the country knew cap-and-trade was moving through Congress. There's no popular mobilization for the legislation. That means that the pressure for changes is coming almost entirely from legislators who aren't sure whether they'll vote for it. And that, in turn, means that the pressure is coming entirely from legislators who want to weaken the bill. Claire McCaskill, for instance, twittered, "I hope we can fix cap and trade so it doesn't unfairly punish businesses and families in coal dependent states like Missouri." The point of cap-and-trade, as I understand it, is that it fairly disadvantages people and businesses who are dependent on cheap coal and are harming the atmosphere.
Friday's vote was a tremendous testament to Waxman and Pelosi's capacity to move legislation. But the legislation on climate change is, I fear, further along then the politics. And my concern is that when you look at the state of the bill and the margin of the vote, you're looking more at Waxman and Pelosi's capacity to run the lower chamber than at Congress's readiness to seriously address global warming.
Image from Bloomberg News Photo.
Posted by: endaround | June 29, 2009 7:34 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: truck1 | June 29, 2009 8:00 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: wvng | June 29, 2009 8:01 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: BigTunaTim | June 29, 2009 1:19 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: tl_houston | June 29, 2009 1:51 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: truck1 | June 29, 2009 2:36 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: 38sa | June 30, 2009 8:12 PM | Report abuse
The comments to this entry are closed.