Down to the Wire: House Passes Climate Bill

After a long day of debate, the U.S. House of Representatives approved the Waxman-Markey climate bill, by a narrow vote of 219-212. The bill now goes to the Senate.

President Obama reportedly changed the topic of his weekly address, in order to respond to the landmark bill’s passage.

Toward the end of the day-long floor debate, Ohio Republican John Boehner railed against a “manager’s amendment” that was “dropped at 3:09 a.m.,” as he reminded members numerous times. The 309-page amendment spelled out some of the regulatory architecture of the proposed law, and Boehner spent more than an hour going through it nearly page-by-page, detailing how the law would reach into local governments, private homes, homeowners’ associations and mortgage markets.

In urging her Democratic colleagues to vote in favor of the measure, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi promised that passage would mean “four things: jobs, jobs, jobs and jobs.” But Republicans repeatedly warned that the law would cost “2.5 million jobs” every year, for the next decade and highlighted conflicting estimates of the cost per household (Projections by the EPA and Congressional Budget Office put the number at between $140 and $175 per year, while House Republicans insisted that the real price would be many times that).

At times the House floor sounded more like the British Parliament in decorum. A Republican amendment known as the “New Manhattan Project” alternative to the bill was defeated 256-172. That proposal would have largely substituted the Waxman bill’s web of regulation with incentives for development of new energy sources.

One thing that both parties seemed to agree on was that the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 is one of the most sweeping pieces of legislation ever to come before Congress. The Waxman bill ballooned to more than 1200 pages by the final vote.