Democrats on Capitol Hill say that historic and controversial climate change legislation is likely to pass the House of Representatives tomorrow. A top Democratic aide estimated that Speaker Nancy Pelosi had banked just enough votes as of this evening. Included are a handful of Republicans. Other Democrats said that they weren't sure where the vote count stood, but that they expected the bill to pass. (Republicans say they're confident it will fail.) Late today, the AFL-CIO endorsed the bill, which might boost its fortunes among Democrats in Pennsylvania. And on the other side, the Chamber of Commerce said it would count the vote as "key," which means they'll hold a "yes" vote against lawmakers.
The bill, written by Rep. Henry Waxman and Rep. Ed Markey, was never supposed to get this far. Senior Democrats, administration officials and Democratic Senators scoffed when Waxman, the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, promised to report an ambitious cap-and-trade bill to the floor by July. They were wrong. And now, the White House is on board, with President Obama telephoning undecided Democrats today to urge their vote.
House Democrats sweetened the deal for representatives in the farm belt and have tried to assuage the concerns of Democrats who represent coal and natural gas-producing districts. These wavering Democrats worry that their constituents would bear a disproportionately high burden of the direct and secondary economic costs of a cap-and-trade system. The debate is classic Washington, putting the short-term economic conseridations of congressional districts versus a long-term and fairly intangible public goal.