Cap and Trade Bill Passes House 219-212. Rep. Reichert Votes with Democrats.

By Josh Feit June 26, 2009

The climate-change bill—which would put a limit on carbon emissions; set up a system for companies to buy and trade pollution permits; and require renewable and clean energy production—just passed the House 219-212. This is the cap and trade bill Washington State Rep. Jay Inslee (D-1) has been stumping for.

Washington State GOP Rep. Dave Reichert (R-8) crossed party lines and voted with the Democrats. Reichert was one of just eight Republicans in Congress who voted for the bill, which the GOP labeled a "tax" because they fear the new regulations will raise energy costs. (The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated the bill would cost an average family about $175 a year.)

Rep. Reichert issued this statement after his yes vote:

“Energy independence and our national security are critical issues for America. These issues transcend politics. The future of this country is on the line and we can spare no effort when it comes to leading on these issues at a global level.

“This bill is not perfect, but it is a vital step toward energy independence. America cannot maintain global leadership without innovation and new ideas, and we cannot lead if we increasingly depend on foreign nations to heat our homes and move people and goods."

Before voting with the Democrats, however, Rep. Reichert voted with Republicans for a failed amendment—essentially a substitute bill—that promoted alternative energy production at a scaled back pace. The GOP substitute would not have put a cap on carbon emissions nor created a cap and trade system to put a price on the emissions.

Rep. Inslee tells PubliCola: "[The amendment] would have derailed the bill."

Inslee—who also slyly told the PubliCola after the vote, "I'm not drinking a celebratory whiskey right now,"—said he "commended" Reichert for voting for the final bill.

Here's the full roll call.

Inslee called the bill "historic," adding that while he would have preferred a more aggressive bill (the bill mandates reducing green house gas emissions 17 percent by 2020; the original version said 20 percent), "it was the best bill America could muster today—the most aggressive bill we could get consensus on with our colleagues from [coal-producing states like] West Virginia and Kentucky, and my goal was [to] pass something this year to take a first step."


Washington state's Rep. Jay Inslee (D-1) pushed the cap and trade bill as a key member of the Energy & Commerce Committee

Inslee concluded that the bill "was a dramatic change in direction from our carbon-based energy economy."

Important footnote.  As Chris K. reported last month: At Inslee's insistence, the cap and trade system does give away some carbon permits for free (at the beginning) to energy intensive industries—like steel, cement, and wood product processing. And according to, Inslee received $10,000 in campaign donations from pulp and paper corporation Weyerhaeuser, as well as $21,000 from various industrial unions.

Also a little drama (or comedy) from the floor debate: An anonymous Washington State House staffer sent me this email as the GOP was trying to stall the bill. (Technically, you can't filibuster in the House because there are time limits ... except when the leader of either party wants to go through all the amendments, a routine compendium, referred to as the Manager's Amendment, that is typically ignored.)

OMG, Minority Leader John Boehner is reading the whole manager’s amendment.

That’s 300 pages of reading to stall the vote.  Wowee.. at least he’s at page 190 or so..

It took Rep. Boehner (R-8, OH)—pronounced Bay-Ner—over a hour to go through the document. His dramatic reading today was being referred to by Democratic staffers as the "Filiboehner."

New York Times report here.

Sightline primer on the 900-page bill here.
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