The late-stage whip count on the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 has produced a particular political irony. A measure crafted by two Democrats in the House of Representatives — Reps. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.) — over the course many years could hinge on the willingness of members of their own party to compromise.
At the heart of the issue is a belief among some progressives that the bill’s standard for carbon emission reductions have been set too low, and that the measure itself is too easy on both the coal industry and farmers. Already, according to Hill aides, Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) has said that he will not support the bill regardless of whether his own amendments are approved. High-ranking officials involved with whipping votes tell the Huffington Post that there are at least three or four other liberals who are withholding their support. Reps. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) and Lloyd Doggett (D-T.X.) were two names put forward by multiple sources, the latter issuing a floor statement on Friday saying that without significant improvements he couldn’t support the bill. Rep. Rush Holt (D-N.J.) whose vote remains up in the air, is said to be leaning towards backing the measure, according a Democratic source.
For a bill that could be decided by one or two votes, holdouts could make all the difference.
“The irony here is that this bill, which people like Waxman and others have been working on for years, could be derailed, not by the right wing,” said one high-ranking Democrat, “but by members of their own party. This could be the classic case of cutting off your nose to spite your face.”
I’m going to say the same thing to Congressman Doggett that I said to Congressmen Gene Green and Charlie Gonzalez: The right thing to do is to vote for this bill. We can always make things better going forward, but if we don’t take this first step now, after all this time, who knows how long it will take just to get this far again? Please do the right thing and vote for this bill, Congressman Doggett.
UPDATE: According to Politico, Rep. Doggett is now a Yes vote. Good for him.
UPDATE: Here’s Rep. Doggett’s statement.
Congressman Lloyd Doggett (D-TX) spoke on the House floor today about the pending climate legislation.
“I struggled deeply about whether to support this flawed bill, but I finally determined that voting for it was my best hope for making it better,” Rep. Doggett said.
“Earlier today I voiced my strong objections to this bill. I voted against the rule to permit this debate because of its rejection of some amendments that I thought would have improved this legislation.
“For three reasons, I’m voting for final passage. First, I’ve been listening to the debate; not so much to those who support a bill that I’m not all that enthusiastic about, but listening to the flat earth society and the climate deniers, and some of the most inane arguments I have heard against refusing to act on this vital national security challenge.
“Second, I believe there is still some hope to make improvements once it gets out of the House – better to have a seat at the table to try to influence the change that is needed in this legislation.
“Third, I am convinced that unless we act today, the Senate will not act, and unless we act in this Congress, we will not get the international agreements we need to address this serious challenge. I’m voting yes in the hope that we will have a better bill and we will have the international accord that we so desperately need to deal with this critical matter.”
To view a video of his floor statement, please click here.
We’ll see what happens in the Senate.