Climate bill negotiations stall in House
What’s up with the climate bill? You know, the one that’s supposed to be voted on in the House next week?
We’re wondering too! A report from one Capitol Hill newspaper suggests that negotiations have bogged down over the legislation’s provisions on agriculture, raising the question of whether the bill will actually get to the House floor before the July 4 recess.
American Clean Energy and Security Act authors Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.) have been meeting with members of the House who have expressed concerns about the bill in its current form, including Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (D-Minn.). Details of those negotiations have been hard to come by.
Peterson, the most vocal critic of the bill, wants it to include pollution permit allocations for rural electric cooperatives. He also wants to make the bill more biofuel-friendly, and to include a provision stating that the U.S. Department of Agriculture will oversee domestic emissions offsets rather than the Environmental Protection Agency.
On Friday, Roll Call reported that Peterson says the talks “blew up last night” over the issue of offsets. It appears the bill authors offered an option of setting aside money a new greenhouse gas conservation program tied to an offsets program, but Peterson and other Ag Dems rejected it.
“It’s a whole new concept being brought in at the last minute,” Peterson said, according to Roll Call. “Many didn’t like it. … The bottom line is we’re not going to consider anything unless we actually see the language and have it for three or four days so we can figure out what it does.”
“I’m tired of this running around in circles,” he added (which is probably what everyone involved in this issue is thinking these days).
Peterson has threatened to vote against the Waxman-Markey bill and pledged no votes from all the other 26 Democrats on his committee if these changes aren’t made. It’s not entirely clear what Peterson would be willing to agree to, or just how much the bill’s authors would be willing to give him. A deal was expected to be announced on Friday, according to a source close to the negotiations. But given the late hour, that’s not looking very likely at this point.
Just yesterday, the bill’s authors were optimistic. “I think we made some real progress,” Markey told reporters. “We’re continuing to try and resolve the issues within the existing framework.” Today, however, Waxman said a vote next week is unlikely, according to Reuters.
Wonkery note: When – or perhaps, if – lawmakers reach a deal, the changes would be introduced in the form of a manager’s amendment during debate on the House floor. Waxman would submit the amendment as a substitute to the version of the bill that passed out of his committee on May 21.