Dem leaders confident, but no climate change deal

Democratic leaders are expressing confidence they can patch together enough of an agreement to pass climate change legislation on the floor by Friday.

But a deal has not been finalized. Democrats — who are still courting centrist Republicans for potential votes — are continuing to negotiate with Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) over a number of outstanding issues.

Weekend negotiations between Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Peterson — monitored by the top two House Democrats — culminated in a series of phone calls Monday night in which leaders decided to forge ahead with a Friday floor vote on the bill.

“We’re close enough that we announced it yesterday. And we put ourselves in a position where we could bring it to the floor on Friday,” Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said Tuesday morning.

“The Speaker and I talked ... four or five times last night and she had been in conversations with Peterson and I had been in conversations with Mr. Waxman — she as well with Mr. Waxman — throughout yesterday.”

In expressing optimism, Democratic leaders are also flexing their political muscle by pre-announcing the bill will be ready for a vote.

“I think we all were confident enough that we were close enough to resolving some of the differences with the Agriculture Committee and Mr. Peterson’s concerns to announce that we were going to move forward,” Hoyer said. “If we didn’t have agreement and we didn’t have the votes then we probably wouldn’t go forward.”

Many of the rank-and-file Democrats on Peterson’s committee have made it clear that their chairman is articulating their own doubts about the legislation. Other Democrats from rural areas have said that Peterson is speaking for them as well.

A spokesman for the Agriculture Committee on Monday morning said only that negotiations were continuing.