Following an agreement late yesterday between Energy & Commerce Committee Chairman Waxman and Agriculture Committee Chairman Peterson, the Waxman-Markey legislation took a huge step towards having enough votes for passage. The key agreement that was reached puts the Agriculture Department in charge of the offset program that will pay farmers and landowners to take part in projects that reduce atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases. The EPA wanted to control this program, but, following a week of talks, Waxman gave in to Peterson in attempt to ensure enough votes to pass the bill out of the House.
Peterson and other rural Democrats were going to vote against the bill unless a number of concessions were made to the bill, and it appears those have been met. Peterson said, “Not all of my House ag people will vote for it, but there will be a good majority. I think the votes are going to be there."
The Democrats now have roughly 190 definite "yes" votes for the bill. They need to reach 218 "yes" votes in order for the bill to pass. House Democratic leaders are trying to track down the fence sitters and pull them to their side before the bill hits the floor. If the bill passes through the House it would be a historic moment; however, if they don’t reach the magic number of 218 it would dim the hopes of passing a cap-and-trade climate bill.