Cap-and-trade (CAT) legislation is expected to hit the House floor Friday for debate and possible vote, a spokesman for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said Tuesday.
"The goal is to have everything worked out and have it on the floor by Friday," said spokesman Drew Hammill. "The bill has been filed...with the Rules Committee. There are some issues still under discussion, but we are confident we can resolve them by the time the bill goes to the floor on Friday."
Pelosi, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (D-MN) "have all agreed on this approach for moving this historic climate change and clean energy jobs bill," he said.
"After [a Monday] afternoon full of surprising twists, the House is moving to consider legislation to regulate greenhouse gas emissions this week after all...If everything continues as planned, debate will start on Friday and, if needed, continue until Saturday, until a vote on the final measure can be taken," said energy analyst Christine Tezak of Robert W. Baird & Co. The House wants to squeeze in the CAT bill before it leaves for its July 4th recess because the focus when it returns will be on health care.
"However, key negotiations are still under way with farm state Democrats and we believe it is possible the timing could be pushed back until after the July 4th recess," said energy analyst K. Whitney Stanco of Washington Research Group.
Peterson and a group of 40-45 Democrats from farm states indicated that they would vote against the CAT legislation (HR 2454) that was passed out of the House Energy and Commerce Committee in late May if changes were not made (see Daily GPI, May 26). The opposition of rural Democrats, along with House Republicans, would be enough to doom the bill sponsored by Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Rep. Edward Markey (D-MA).
They have been holding the bill hostage in the House, while Peterson has negotiated issues affecting rural states with Waxman. The two lawmakers are said to have made progress, particularly on emission credit allowances for small Midwest co-ops that rely on coal-fired electricity.
In a letter to Congress Monday, American Petroleum Institute (API) President Jack Gerard called on the House to reject the CAT measure. "It would mean gasoline at more than $4 a gallon. It also will create huge disincentives for the production of America's abundant natural gas resources, and force jobs and productive capacity overseas," he said.
"API supports legislation to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases in lieu of ill-suited federal and state regulatory programs. The oil and natural gas industry is responsible for 44% of the $133 billion in total public- and private-sector investments in low-carbon energy technology since 2000. Unfortunately the approach taken by the Waxman-Markey bill is so fundamentally flawed that the House should reject it."
Legislative observers believe the CAT bill will clear the House this year, but not Congress. "While the House may pass a climate measure this summer, we continue to believe the hurdles in the Senate are likely too high for final passage in 2009. Challenges in the Senate may be exacerbated if the House only narrowly passes its climate measure," Stanco said.
The CAT measure, which the Congressional Budget Office estimated would cost the average household $175 in 2020, seeks to cut heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions by 17% from 2005 levels in 2020; by 42% in 2030; and by 83% in 2050. The Environmental Protection Agency projects that the measure would cost the average household $80 to $111 a year.
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