By Bob Cusack - 06/28/09 11:32 PM EDT
The members who pushed the historic climate change bill to passage on Friday are not household names, but the rank-and-file lawmakers were on Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) radar all week, and by the time of the vote, they were on her side.
After intense lobbying from Pelosi, President Obama, former Vice President Gore and many others, the cap-and-trade bill passed 219-212. Pelosi had publicly expressed confidence that the legislation, which she has repeatedly referred to as her flagship issue, would pass.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.), whose wife had pleaded guilty to bribery charges on Friday in Detroit, was in the lower chamber and ultimately voted for the climate change bill.
Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D-Calif.) was getting married the next day and needed to sign papers to resign her House seat after being confirmed by the Senate on Thursday for her new job at the State Department. Tauscher not only was in the House on Friday, she served as the presiding officer of the heated and partisan debate.
The only Democrat who didn’t vote was Rep Alcee Hastings (Fla.). Hastings, co-chairman of the U.S. Helsinki Commission, was in Albania on Friday as an election observer.
Republicans who missed the vote on Friday were Reps. Jeff Flake (Ariz.) and John Sullivan (Okla.). Flake’s office said the congressman had a family commitment while Sullivan announced last month that he has been admitted to the Betty Ford Center for alcoholism.
Hours before the climate bill vote, a House Democratic lawmaker said Democrats were still a handful of votes short.
On the war supplemental bill earlier this month, Pelosi had vowed to get the necessary 218 votes on her side of the aisle, not wanting to rely on any GOP support. The spending bill, which included controversial funding for the International Monetary Fund, passed comfortably with 226 votes.
But climate change was different. Pelosi does not usually meet with Republicans, but she met with at least seven GOP centrists. Five of them — Reps. Michael Castle (Del.), Mark Kirk (Ill.), Leonard Lance (N.J.), Frank LoBiondo (N.J.) and Dave Reichert (Wash.) — subsequently backed the bill. Three other Republicans — Reps. Mary Bono Mack (Calif.), John McHugh (N.Y.) and Chris Smith (N.J.) — voted yes. Bono Mack had backed the bill in the Energy and Commerce Committee. McHugh, if confirmed by the Senate, will be Obama’s secretary of the Army.
Key votes on the House climate change bill:
Leonard Boswell (D-Iowa). House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) negotiated many changes to the measure, noting that his panel members were behind him. But when Peterson backed the bill, others remained skeptical. Twelve of the 27 Agriculture Committee Democrats rejected the bill. But Boswell, who is regularly targeted by Republicans, needed to be convinced and Pelosi closed the deal.
Lacy Clay (D-Mo.). Clay was one of many members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) who was worried about the effect the legislation would have on utility bills for his constituents. Clay backed the measure, and the only CBC member who voted no was Rep. Artur Davis (D-Ala.), who has launched a gubernatorial bid.
Henry Cuellar (D-Texas). Obama tried and failed to convince Cuellar. On Thursday, Pelosi approached Cuellar on the House floor as he was telling a colleague about how he was going to reject the bill. The Speaker tapped him on the shoulder.
“Henry,” she interrupted. “Can I talk to you about your vote?”
Cuellar, who sits on the Agriculture Committee, later said he was still leaning no. He waited late in the roll call on Friday evening to register his position, voting yes.
Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas). Doggett had called the legislation crafted by Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) “weak” on the House floor, adding he could not support it. He later changed his mind in a huge blow to GOP hopes of taking down the bill.
Alan Grayson (D-Fla.). Grayson may be a freshman, but he knows how to horse-trade like a veteran legislator. For his "yes" vote, Grayson secured a $50 million hurricane research center in his district.
Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio). The Ohio lawmaker is not shy about blasting House Democratic leaders on various issues and bucking them on the floor. Like Doggett, she went to the House floor to complain about the climate bill, but subsequently voted for it.
Frank Kratovil (D-Md.). The freshman lawmaker was seen on the House floor on Thursday shaking his head no as Pelosi buttonholed him. Kratovil, one of the most vulnerable Democrats, voted yes on Friday. He likely was leaned on by fellow Maryland Democrats, Reps. Steny Hoyer and Chris Van Hollen, who are Pelosi’s deputies in leadership.
David Scott (D-Ga.). Scott, an Agriculture Committee member, was on the fence earlier this week, but was persuaded to support the measure.
Heath Shuler (D-N.C.). The former Redskins quarterback seems to enjoy being a maverick, publicly ripping Democrats on immigration reform and other matters. Shuler fell in line on this vote.
Peterson. His criticism of the climate change bill attracted many headlines. Yet, his support was vital.
Scott Murphy (D-N.Y.). Murphy, who won a tight election this year to replace now-Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), waited late in the roll call to support the legislation. His vote was immediately criticized by the National Republican Congressional Committee, which will be aiming to win the seat next year.
GOP centrists. If every Republican had rejected the bill, Democrats likely still would have had the votes to pass it. Rep. Pete Stark (D-Calif.), for example, has known Pelosi for decades and waited late in the vote to register his "no" vote. If it had made a difference, Stark — a key player on healthcare reform — would have likely voted yes. In 2007, Stark voted “present” on a war supplemental bill that he opposed in order to ease the passage of that spending measure. There were other Democratic "no" votes who would have helped Pelosi out in a pinch. But the eight “yes” votes from Republicans made it easier on the Democrats.
In a nod to their leaders, the eight Republicans waited until late in the vote to register their support of the climate change bill.
A timeline of Friday's vote follows:
46 supporting, 78 against
14 Democrats voting no
17 Democrats voting no
26 Democrats voting no
31 Democrats voting no
3 GOP members voting yes
31 Democrats voting no
7 GOP members voting yes
37 Democrats voting no
7 GOP members voting yes
Democrats applaud as they hit majority number in the lower chamber
GOP member changes his vote from yes to no as late votes are registered. Forty-four Democrats reject bill while eight Republicans support it. The only member who is listed as changing his vote in the Congressional Record is Rep. Louis Gohmert (R-Texas), who changed his yes vote to a no.
Democrats cheer as Republicans chant “BTU,” a reference to a politically difficult energy vote Democrats cast in 1993. Another Republican yells, “Bye-bye.”
A smiling Pelosi checks the board to see who has voted which way. She signs a copy of the bill for Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Md.) on the House floor.
Pelosi embraces Kennedy and then hugs Hoyer. She later shakes her fists in victory.
Pelosi hugs Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.), who then gives Rep. Mel Watt (D-N.C.) a high-five. Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) pats Clyburn on the back.
Jared Allen, Michael M. Gleeson, Molly K. Hooper and Mike Soraghan contributed to this article.
This article was updated on June 29 at 10:59 a.m. Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) was recovering from surgery on his back, not his heart as initially reported.