The real battle over the "American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009" started today as the House Committee on Energy and Commerce began its "markup" on the bill.
This new version of the legislation -- which would institute a cap-and-trade system for greenhouse gas emissions -- replaces the "draft bill" that Reps. Henry Waxman, California Democrat, and Edward Markey, Massachusetts Democrat, introduced on March 31.
However, no sooner had the new bill been introduced last Friday than an amendment in the nature of a substitute bill was introduced.
The bill -- certain to be one of the most contentious environmental/energy bills handled by Congress in years -- will be considered by the House committee this week and next. Chairman Waxman's goal is to report the bill out of committee by the end of next week.
As the markup session began this afternoon, Chairman Waxman said, "I am very proud of the work this committee has done in developing this legislation. Energy legislation is by its nature contentious. It can inflame regional differences. But over the last several weeks, we have been able to bridge these differences and build a remarkable coalition behind the legislation."
Well, I guess we'll wait and see. One thing is for sure -- the bill is now replete with all sorts of free (for the time being) emissions allowances.
Word in Washington is that the measure will receive no Republican votes in committee. Does a nearly straight party-line vote (although some Democrats are likely to join the Republicans in voting against the bill) represent "a remarkable coalition?" Maybe in Washington, D.C., but not in the real world. On the other hand, the bill was never likely to receive much Republican support in any case.