Friday, June 19th came and went without House Democrats being able to settle their differences over the energy and climate legislation reported by the House Energy and Commerce Committee in late May. Rumors abound that a deal is afoot aimed at bringing House Agriculture Committee Democrats aboard. The deal would give rural, coal-fired public utilities a greater share of “free” carbon allocations (meaning someone else would get fewer) and empower the Department of Agriculture to oversee elements of the cap and trade system related to farm and forestry operations, fencing off what otherwise would be EPA territory. We’ve had a number of clients and contacts ask us for odds that a deal will be reached before the July 4th recess. Rather than speculate, we’ll reduce the analysis to a mathematical equation, something empirical, using the statements from the end of the week issued by key leaders and members involved in negotiations.
Let’s do the arithmetic: (“We have worked out some of the issues completely and there are a couple of other issues that I think we have an understanding of how to work them out") + ("I think we have an idea for a conceptual understanding that we're not looking at in more detail, and I think we're almost there") – ("I wouldn't go that far") – (“Progress is not being made as fast as I would like, I expect us to reach an agreement but we're not there yet") + ("You can tell that I have a smile on my face. I'm feeling good, I'm feeling optimistic") – ("They came up with a new concept that was interesting, and my staff has already raised about 100 questions about it") – (“I haven't been budged from my firm 'no' since Day 1") + (“In terms of the condition of the bill, we're in good shape") + ("We shouldn't dismiss the idea of legislation next week") – (“There's three things—health care, health care, health care. And nobody—nobody except reporters—has even mentioned climate [legislation]”) + (“By the first week of July—that hasn't changed”) – (“I don’t believe they’re going to be ready next week. I’ve not heard anything about it being ready for next week. That makes me think that they’re not going to do it”) = (Anyone’s guess?).
Meanwhile, Dow Jones reported that the White House was bringing pressure on House Democrats to compromise. According to this story: “The White House directed several of its top cabinet officials to whip up support for the bill among the members in revolt. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Obama's climate czar, Carol Browner, have been contacting House members and urging them to support the bill.
"Browner isn't sending in the guns, that's sending in the battleship," said Daniel Weiss, Director of Climate Strategy at the Center for American Progress, which has strong ties to the Administration.
White House spokesman Ben LaBolt said, "President Obama is committed to passing comprehensive energy and climate legislation and the administration is working every week to support efforts to do so in Congress."
Next week, the White House will send out its energy and climate team on a cross-country trip in an public relations campaign meant to built support for the Obama's policies.”