Along with a week of intense coverage of local politics and election, there were a host of developments regarding the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act that deserve a quick run through.
1. The GOP staged a boycott of the EPW mark-up of the bill, complaining that there wasn’t a full EPA analysis of the impact of the legislation. This is just an excuse for delay, not an actual issue worth boycotting, as Wonk Room notes:
The fact that these and other bills moved through committees without any analysis sharply contrasts with the mountain of assessments of this year’s clean energy legislation. Full EPA, EIA, and CBO analyses were conducted of the House bill, the American Clean Energy and Security Act (H.R. 2454), and the EPA has conductedadditional analysis of the Senate legislation. The Republicans’ interest in analysis is little more than an excuse for delay and defeat of clean energy legislation. In one of the boycotted hearings this week, Sen. Boxer noted that the “EPA has also indicated that this economic analysis reflects hundreds of thousands of pages of backup documentation” about the related House bill. Environmental Protection Agency Director of Congressional Affairs David McIntosh appeared before the Committee to reiterate that S. 1733 and H.R. 2454 were very similar:
[EPA economic] models are not designed to detect fine-grain details in this kind of legislation. So changes in the legislation at that level of detail will not even show up in the economic computer model. Second, it costs the EPA at least $135,000 and 1600 man-hours of time to run a bill through the agency’s full suite of economic computer models.
Nonetheless, Republican boycotters wanted EPA to spend five weeks and $135,000 of taxpayer money to conduct a redundant analysis before they would agree to a vote.
The Washington Post called this irrationality by the Republicans an Unhelpful atmosphere.
So Boxer waited a bit, and then decided not to let this boycott stall the process, and held the vote anyways, where it passed 11-1. The one no vote was our good old friend Max Baucus, who indicated he would be voting for the final bill. Baucus has also declared
“There’s no doubt that this Congress is going to pass climate change legislation,” he said. “I don’t know if it’s going to be this year. Probably next year.”
Now, EPW has passed a bill, but one in which no positive or negative amendments could be made because of the Republican boycott. There has been a separate dual track for climate legislation established with John Kerry, Lindsay Graham, and Joe Lieberman, who will be working with the White House to craft a bill that can get 60 votes. It’s unclear to me what relationship this track will have in comparison to the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act that Boxers committee and other committees will be passing. I would imagine those committees will have their hearings and mark-ups, while Kerry, Graham, Lieberman, and the White House work on compromises to pull moderate Democrats and Republicans on board. These compromises would then be infused with the final product of these committees on the Senate floor. Once again, that is just how I understand it.
There have been some reports in the media that the bill’s chances of passage are low, but I disagree. My calculation is that Republican Lindsay Graham’s involvement and support of the final bill means landmark climate legislation. I’ve seen no evidence besides rumors in the media to discredit that perspective. Check out Graham in the video below