Ag chairman: Climate bill will pass House

The committee chairman once seen as the chief obstacle to moving climate change legislation predicted Wednesday that House Democratic leaders will pass the bill this week.

"I think they will be able to get the votes to pass the bill," House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) said during a conference call, one day after he announced striking a deal with House Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) to resolve concerns raised by farm-state Democrats.

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The crux of the deal is a concession from Waxman to allow the Department of Agriculture — not the Environmental Protection Agency — to develop and monitor offset and land use provisions the legislation creates.

The Republican's point man on climate, Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas), said the deal vastly increases the chance that the bill will pass.

"Getting Peterson is a huge plus for them," Barton, the ranking Republican on the Energy and Commerce Committee, said in an appearance at the National Press Club. "It gives them a chance to pass it. But it doesn't guarantee it."

Peterson cautioned that the deal he struck with Waxman wouldn't necessarily win the votes of all the members on his committee.

"I told the Speaker that even if you fix agriculture, it won't get everybody on the committee," Peterson said.

He said that "four or five" members have concerns with a different question, the definition of biomass in the bill. And he said some of his committee members have problems with the bill that aren't related to agriculture.