Muckraker: Grist on Politics

The House got down to some business on Thursday, working to cross a few things off its list before time runs out on the 110th Congress.

It passed the Commodity Markets Transparency and Accountability Act, which would curb speculation in the energy-futures markets. The bill was approved by a vote of 283 to 133, and it now heads to the Senate.

 

The House also passed the No Child Left Inside Act, a bill to improve and expand environmental education. Sponsored by Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Md.), it passed by a vote of 293-109.

The Great Lakes Legacy Reauthorization Act, which would increase federal funding for cleaning up toxic sediment from Great Lakes tributaries, also passed, by a vote of 371-20.

On the climate front, the House Ways and Means Committee convened for what was likely its final full-committee meeting of the year, for a hearing on “Preventing Climate Change.” While the committee’s Democratic and Republican members didn’t agree on much at the hearing, they did agree that their committee — which oversees taxes and tariffs — should have jurisdiction over policy to curb greenhouse-gas emissions. Since a cap-and-trade, cap-and-auction, or carbon-tax program would generate large amounts of revenue, they argue that the committee focused on that aspect of government should have the primary responsibility for climate legislation. Ranking minority member Jim McCrery (R-La.) said that they were “asserting this committee’s jurisdiction over this rule.”

Committee Chair Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) added that the hearing was intended to gather information to prepare for legislative action on climate change next year. “We hope this committee can serve the next president with some ideas so he can hit the ground running,” he said.

It’s not clear which House committee will head up climate and energy legislation in the next Congress. Ways and Means members Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas), Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) introduced their “Climate MATTERS Act” in June, which the committee could decide to take up next year.

Meanwhile, Energy and Commerce Committee Chair John Dingell (D-Mich.) has been promising to write his own climate bill for months now, though he’s been reticent on the details beyond declaring that it will be industry-friendly.

Ed Markey, chair of the Select Committee for Energy Independence and Global Warming, also introduced a bill this year, but his committee doesn’t have the power to mark up and advance legislation. Markey is, however, also a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, which does have that power.

With climate change set to be a major issue in Congress next year, the jostling for jurisdiction could get quite heated — no pun intended.