House Democrats remain locked in difficult negotiations over the ultimate shape of H.R. 2454, the American Clean Energy and Security Act, which passed out of the Energy & Commerce Committee in late May. (Bill text and report here.) The Speaker has not retreated from her stated objective to have all committees with jurisdiction over aspects of the bill complete their work by this Friday, June 19th. Yet at week’s end, no evidence had emerged to suggest that the key committees on Agriculture and Ways and Means had been brought on board. Negotiations among Chairman Waxman, Chairman Peterson and Chairman Rangel continued into the weekend with no sign of resolution, and, amid some talk of “good conversations”, still plenty of pessimistic notes. Usually, it makes sense to assume that a sizable proportion of the tough talk from committee leaders is theatrical and designed to mollify certain constituencies while masking an underlying willingness to compromise and support party leadership. The situation with this bill seems different, however. Its complexity, consequences, and controversial nature suggest that the hard words represent hard positions. The intra-party negotiations on H.R. 2454 will be some of the heaviest lifting these lawmakers have ever done. It should become clear in the first part of this week whether a deal among the Democrats can be reached, and, if so, whether any other committees will hold mark-ups, or if the leadership will craft an “amendment in the nature of a substitute” for H.R. 2454 and bring it to the floor for a vote. For an overview of the underlying debate on biofuel policy (perhaps the key point of friction among Democrats) see this article.
In the meantime, the Committee on Energy and Commerce held two subcommittee-level hearings on aspects of the legislation. The Subcommittee on Energy and the Environment considered on Tuesday the subject of how GHG emission allowances would be allocated under H.R. 2454, and on Friday heard testimony on electric transmission siting, cost allocation and regulation. The records of these hearings represent some of the most useful and readable explorations of these topics available anywhere. Here, as an added bonus, is a summary of the first hearing prepared by a Sonnenschein associate who attended the hearing.
Dude, if you were not fortunate enough to hear this very funny piece on NPR’s Morning Edition Friday, here is an explanation of GHG cap-and-trade like no other. And a behind the scenes explanation of how the story came together.
The Congressional Budget Office issued its analysis of the budgetary impacts of H.R. 2454, finding that, from the standpoint of the federal budget, the news is positive: “[O]ver the 2010-2019 period enacting this legislation would:
- Increase federal revenues by about $846 billion; and
- Increase direct spending by about $821 billion.
In total, those changes would reduce budget deficits (or increase future surpluses) by about $24 billion over the 2010-2019 period.”