Markey [D-MA] said in a statement yesterday that he decided to pull his amendment after consulting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), even though he believed he had the votes to move the legislation. While Pelosi personally favored a CAFE standard of 35 miles per gallon, industry lobbyists said she did not whip votes on the legislation and it appeared Markey was not assured of the votes needed to pass the bill.
Sad, really. This is a centerpiece of any energy or climate legislation — and much of the heavy lifting had already been done to get Senate approval. Markey is touting a fallback strategy:
Even so, Markey yesterday insisted his CAFE provision — or something like it — would survive conference negotiations with the Senate.
“I am satisfied that our strength in both the House and the Senate is sufficient to ensure that the progress we have made already to update our fuel economy standards will win out in conference,” he said. “The country cannot afford to accept less than a 35 mpg standard if we are to wean ourselves off our addiction to imported oil.”
Democratic leaders — including Pelosi — have said they may pursue the conference strategy on CAFE, and Pelosi again hinted yesterday that she may try to take such action.
“The American people — in every region of the country — overwhelmingly support stronger fuel efficiency standards, and we will have an opportunity to address this issue shortly,” Pelosi said. “The Senate energy bill does contain a CAFE provision, which I support.”
Indeed, the Senate energy package contains nearly the same language on CAFE as the latest version of the Markey proposal, calling for a mandate of 35 miles per gallon for passenger cars and light trucks a year later than the Markey bill. Both bills also contain the same language on CAFE increases beyond those dates — applying a “maximum feasible” standard — and contain exemptions for “work trucks.”
For his part, Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman John Dingell (D-Mich.) — himself a cosponsor of the Hill-Terry plan — said he would like to pursue the issue in the fall as his committee drafts climate change legislation.
“I commend Ed Markey and Baron Hill for their decisions to withdraw their amendments on fuel efficiency standards in the interest of promoting passage of a consensus energy bill,” he said. “I look forward to working on this matter with great care in the fall as part of an economy-wide system of regulating greenhouse gases.”
Otherwise known as damning with faint praise.