Friday, June 26, 2009

The Daily Strike-6/26/09-Historic Vote

Good evening and welcome to the Daily Strike. The rest of the world was focused on Michael Jackson, but the politically savvy had their eyes on the House of Representatives. Let's get you caught up.

HOUSE: The House of Representatives passed a historic bill today that, if enacted, would change the way America consumes energy and would play a small, but significant role in curbing carbon emissions. The bill sets up a so-called Cap and Trade program, which seeks to reduce total carbon emissions in the U.S. by 80% in 2050. The bill also contains historic investments in alternative energy, and would require 20% of electricity to come from renewable sources by 2020. This was a massive legislative battle, complete with intense lobbying from the Democratic leadership and President Obama, obstructionist shenanigans from Republicans, and heated debate on both sides. In the end, the bill passed by an extremely narrow 219-212 margin. Democrats had to contend with objections in their own ranks, mostly from rural conservative members who worried that the bill would increase energy costs. A few liberal Democrats broke ranks because they thought the bill didn't go far enough. In all, 44 out of 256 Democrats broke with their party and opposed the bill. Luckily, 8 Republicans defected and voted yes, assuring passage. Here's the list of defectors from both parties. You should call your Representative if you don't like how they voted:

Democrats Voting No: Altmire (PA), Arcuri (NY), Barrow (GA), Berry (AR), Boren (OK), Bright (AL), Carney (PA), Childers (MS), Costa (CA), Costello (IL), Dahlkemper (PA), Davis (AL), Davis (TN), DeFazio (OR), Donnelly (IN), Edwards (TX), Ellsworth (IN), Foster (IL), Griffith (AL), Herseth-Sandlin (SD), Holden (PA), Kirkpatrick (AZ), Kissell (NC), Kucinich (OH), Marshall (GA), Massa (NY), Matheson (UT), McIntyre (NC), Melancon (LA), Minnick (ID), Mitchell (AZ), Mollohan (WV), Nye (VA), Ortiz (TX), Pomeroy (ND), Rahall (WV), Rodriguez (TX), Ross (AR), Salazar (CO), Stark (CA), Tanner (TN), Taylor (MS), Visclosky (IN) and Wilson (OH).

Republicans Voting Yes: Bono Mack (CA), Castle (DE), Kirk (IL), Lance (NJ), LoBiondo (NJ), McHugh (NY), Reichert (WA) and Smith (NJ). These Republican heroes not only stood up to the Earth is Flat crowd in their caucus, but they will allow President Obama to portray this progressive bill as "bipartisan." Better still, since far-left Representatives like Kucinich voted no, he can claim that the bill is "centrist." That might be a good way to sell the bill to the United States Senate, which should take up a version later this summer or during the fall.

A couple other notes on voting: Ellen Tauscher (D-CA), was confirmed by the Senate yesterday for a post at the State Department. She decided to hold off retiring from the House so that she could vote for the bill today. She spent the day, as she frequently does, presiding over debate as the Speaker Pro Tempore, and got shout outs from Republicans and Democrats alike. Patrick Kennedy (D-RI), son of Ted Kennedy, came back from rehab to take a vote on this bill. I guess that shows just how important the vote was.

The vote itself was the culmination of a crazy day on the House floor, mostly due to Republican shenanigans. For one, every Republican who spoke on the floor portrayed the bill as a jobs killing measure pedaled by liberal activists that will raise energy taxes on consumers and businesses. The CBO estimated that the cost per family was about a postage stamp a day, which doesn't account for potential benefits of a new alternative energy sector. Then, for a good half hour or so, Republicans started complaining that they didn't have enough time to read the bill, because Democrats had added in 300 pages late last night. The uber-partisan chairman of the Republican Study Committee, Tom Price of Georgia, got up like a little brat and asked for a moment of silence for "all the people who will lose jobs as a result of this bill." Several Republicans also denied the science behind global warming.

The real jerk of the day (I reserve that term for rarified circumstances) was Republican Leader John Boehner. As you know, debate time is limited in the House. Customarily, party leaders are allowed to exceed time limits, but they usually do so only by a couple of minutes. Boehner decided to abuse that privilege tonight, because he is a little child. He went to the floor for about two hours, ostensibly to protest that he didn't have enough time to read the bill. He proceeded to read excerpts of the bill, page by page, 1 to 309. Democrats asked Tauscher, the presiding officer, if they could do anything to stop him, and she said no. Democrats had to sit there and listen to Boehner ramble on in the first House filibuster I can remember. Luckily, the perma-tanned partisan hack couldn't keep up his monotoned voice forever, and members finally got to actually vote.

Before the final vote, members voted on a Republican alternative, offered by Virginia Rep. Randy Forbes, that would strike the whole bill for a Republican measure that would emphasize offshore drilling and nuclear energy. The alternative failed by a vote of 172-256. 11 Republicans didn't support their own alternative, while 7 Democrats jumped ship and voted with the GOP.

When all is said and done, today is a great day for the President and the Democratic party. Sure, getting this through the Senate will be tough. And the bill had been significantly watered down to placate concerns of moderate Democrats. But today's vote will really help the stars align. Not only does it give Democrats momentum, but the terms of the debate are favorable. Obama can say that this is a bipartisan bill, and he can characterize opposition to the bill by using the anti-science rhetoric of House Republicans.

The House earlier in the day, in a far less dramatic vote, approved the 4th of the 12 annual appropriations bill, the bill funding the Department of the Interior, Environment and related agencies. The bill passed by a vote of 254-173. 17 Republicans voted yes, while 14 Democrats voted no.

Both the House and Senate are off next week for the July 4th holiday. When they come back, they will have their hands full. The Senate will start with the Legislative Branch appropriations bill, and will then move on to a couple more appropriations measures. The House will continue appropriations as well, with the goal of completing all of them by the August recess.

Before we go, we should mention that President Obama met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel today to discuss a variety of matters, including Iran and North Korea. Not much news out of that event.

That's it for tonight. Please leave us your thoughts on this important bill. We'll see you tomorrow night!

3 comments:

  1. The writer of this trash blog article sounds like a total socialist. What drivel.

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  2. Hey rob4ronpaul -- how about offering some thoughtful criticism instead of just being a dumb shit?

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