The House Energy and Commerce Committee on Tuesday marked up and passed H. R. 910, the Energy Tax Prevention Act, by a 34 to 19 vote. All 31 Republicans on the committee supported Chairman Fred Upton’s (R-Mich.) bill. They were joined by three Democrats—Representatives John Barrow (D-Ga.), Jim Matheson (D-Utah), and Mike Ross (D-Ark.).
The mark-up started on Monday afternoon with opening statements from members of the committee and then lasted most of Tuesday. A number of amendments offered by Democrats were variations on the theme that the Congress accepts that global warming science is settled and that it’s a crisis. All these amendments were defeated easily, but, as my CEI colleague Marlo Lewis points out, Republican supporters of the bill for the most part didn’t defend the bill very well against the Democrats’ attacks.
What the proponents should argue, but did not in committee mark-up, is that H. R. 910 is not about the science or what we should do about potential global warming. The bill simply says that the EPA cannot use the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gas emissions until the Congress authorizes it to do so. Chairman Upton’s bill is designed to re-assert congressional authority to make laws (which the Constitution gives Congress the sole authority to do) and rein in an out-of-control executive branch.
Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has said that passing the Upton bill is a priority. It is now expected that the bill could be debated on the House floor as soon as the week of 27th March. On 26th June 2009, the House Democratic leadership railroaded the mammoth Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill through the House in a single day of debate with only one Republican amendment allowed to be offered. The Republican leadership under Boehner is doing things differently, so there will probably be several days of debate with numerous amendments considered. The bill should pass easily, with almost unanimous Republican and significant Democratic support.
Yesterday morning, the Energy and Power Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee met to mark up H.R. 910, the Energy Tax Prevention Act of 2011, but the results was a foregone conclusion. As they say in poker, Republicans had the “nuts.” The legislation, which would prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act, was co-written by Committee Chair Fred Upton (MI), and it enjoyed the support of all the Rs on the panel. Subcommittee Chair Ed Whitfield (KY) didn’t even bother with a roll call, and the Democrats on the panel didn’t object, so the bill passed by a voice vote alone.
Indeed, the only mystery to yesterday’s vote was whether any of the Subcommittee Democrats would side with the majority party. Already, senior House Democrats Colin Peterson (MN) and Nick Rahall (WV) have sponsored H.R. 910. The most likely Democratic defection, heading into yesterday’s markup, was Utah Rep. Tim Matheson, but he stayed in lock step with his party.
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There wasn’t much to report from yesterday’s climate change science hearing before the Energy and Power Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Generally speaking, Republican lawmakers used the entirety of their allotted time to question the scientists they had invited, and Democratic lawmakers did likewise. Click here for opening statements, and also for an archived podcast of the hearing.
Truth be told, the hearing’s pedigree is more interesting than the hearing was. Last week, the same subcommittee held a hearing on pending EPA regulations for greenhouse gases, in order to inform the debate on H.R. 910, the Energy Tax Prevention Act of 2011, legislation that would check the EPA’s authority to enact climate policy under the Clean Air Act. During these hearings, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Beverly Hills), who is a master parliamentarian, leveraged an obscure procedural rule to demand a hearing of the minority party’s choosing. Subcommittee Chair Rep. Ed Whitfield, in an act of Congressional comity, granted the request. Ergo, yesterday’s “dueling science” hearing.
There was one notable element to yesterday’s action: The extent to which the center is moving away from the Democratic leadership on energy and environment policy. Rather feebly, Rep. Waxman concluded by asking that the majority party agree to postpone tomorrow’s scheduled mark up of H.R. 910…until Tuesday. It was a weak negotiating tactic.
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