Climate change bill to hit House floor this week

In a surprising development, House Democrats have reached an agreement to bring a sweeping climate change bill to the floor by the end of the week, Democratic aides announced late Monday night.

Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) has brokered enough of a pact with wary Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) to pave the way for a bill to be voted on by week’s end. But it remains to be seen whether the measure has the votes to pass. Most Republicans are expected to reject the bill, while some conservative Democrats, such as Reps. Jason Altmire (Pa.) and Gene Taylor (Miss.), are firmly against it.

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Rep. Mary Bono Mack (Calif.) was the only Republican to back the bill in the Energy and Commerce Committee, while four Democrats — Reps. Mike Ross (Ark.), Jim Matheson (Utah), John Barrow (Ga.) and Charlie Melancon (La.) — rejected it.

Waxman filed the bill with the House Rules Committee on Monday night. House Democrats had previously suggested the measure would be voted on after the July 4 recess. The vote, whenever it occurs, will be one of the biggest roll calls of Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) political career. She has labeled climate change her “flagship issue.”
 
“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,” said Drew Hammill, a spokesman for Pelosi. “The Speaker, [Majority] Leader [Steny] Hoyer [D-Md.] and Chairmen Waxman and Peterson have all agreed on this approach for moving this historic climate change and clean energy jobs bill.”

Some House Democrats have expressed their desire to have healthcare reform hit the floor before climate change legislation, but it appears that revamping the nation’s healthcare system will be handled after the energy bill in the lower chamber.