The Skywriter

DC Hill Update: pre-congressional recess politics

28
Jul

DC Hill Update: pre-congressional recess politics

With two more weeks left in this session, members of Congress are beginning to posture with respect to climate in preparation for a busy fall. The delay in healthcare will likely influence progress of the climate bill, and the opposition is ramping up their efforts on both agenda items. To win this fall, we need a sustained effort in August to ensure that Senators come back in September determined to work for the strongest possible climate bill. To kick things off, 1Sky is starting the recess with clean energy beach parties nationwide outside congressional offices on August 10th.

ALSO: 1Sky is hiring additional State Organizers in many new states from now through the end of 2009. Do you know someone who would be an excellent candidate in Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Carolina, and South Dakota? Click here to learn more and please send this notice to your lists. (PDF).

1. Timeline

Environment and Public Works (EPW) Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-CA) has promised the release of her committee's discussion draft on September 8, the first day back from recess. By releasing a discussion draft after recess, EPW has the potential to positively influence other committee processes as titles get marked up before the September 28th deadline. The current schedule:

  • 8/8 - 9/7: Senate August recess;

  • 8/10: 1Sky Beach Parties across the country;

  • 9/8: EPW discussion draft to be released;

  • 9/8 - 9/25: Committee mark-ups held;

  • 9/28: Majority Leader Harry Reid's (D-NV) mark-up deadline for all Senate Committees with climate jurisdiction.

2. EPW and Finance Committees

Aides from the EPW Committee have said that their draft of the bill will not include "detailed language" on allocations, as they may wait until the markup process before they tackle the allowance scheme (like Energy and Commerce Chairman Waxman (D-CA) did in the House).

Chairwoman Boxer is being pushed by climate champions like Sens. Sanders (I-VT), Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Whitehouse (D-RI) to strengthen short-term emissions reduction targets "beyond 17% by 2020" (in anticipation of attempts at weakening on the floor), while Sens. Carper (D-DE), Baucus (D-MT), and Specter (D-PA) want a more moderate bill from EPW. Carper has specifically said he wants a more "centrist" EPW draft.

Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) has been clear that his committee will mark-up the international trade and allocations provisions of the climate bill.

3. Posturing amongst the Moderates

Senators have begun posturing in anticipation of what will take place in September. Here's a brief rundown of some public comments we've seen since ACES passed in the House:

4. How Will Healthcare Delays Affect Climate?

Though healthcare floor action has been pushed until after the August recess, climate champions are insisting they will hold a vote this year. EPW Chairwoman Boxer and Agriculture Chairman Harkin (D-IA) have promised to stay on track with their committee pieces of the bill, and Foreign Relations Chairman Kerry (D-MA) is denying that the healthcare calendar will have any effect on climate (E&E). The White House is maintaining that both agenda items are the "valued children" of the Administration, and they will continue to press Congress to pass both this year.

Read more on:

Bottom line: Wins beget wins. A win on healthcare helps raise the political capital necessary to pass a strong climate bill before Copenhagen.

5. USDA Gives ACES the Thumbs Up

The USDA has released their analysis of ACES, confirming that the economic benefits of ACES "easily trump" the costs. They have concluded that in the short term, profits from domestic offsets will completely negate any increased fuel costs, and in the medium, and long terms, will "likely overtake" any added costs. See WonkRoom's blog post and link to the USDA analysis.

Despite the study, Sens. Stabenow (D-MI), Nelson (D-NE), and Chambliss (R-GA) still voiced their concerns for agriculture in a new bill. Whether or not their concerns will be incorporated into a committee mark-up, or in a backdoor deal with leadership, is still unclear.

6. Other Newsworthy Items

Regulating Existing Coal Plants: EPW member Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and the New York Times are calling on the Senate to regulate existing coal plants, ensure offset integrity in a new bill, and close the coal loophole.

Security and Climate: Recognizing climate change as a security threat within the Foreign Relations Committee could bring more urgency to the fight in both the public sphere and inside the Senate.

Moment of Levity: John Stewart features a withering profile of cap-and-trade (Captain Trade) on the Daily Show where Energy Secretary Stephen Chu is the guest speaker.

Prepared by Jason Kowalski and Rhiya Trivedi. Comments? Contact: jason@1sky.org.
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