Photo via Cash for Clunkers
It's official: the House of Representatives has just passed--narrowly--the Waxman-Markey climate and energy bill. The controversial, historic climate bill makes the first ever move towards limiting greenhouse gases in the US in order to combat climate change. The vote was 219-212--about as close as it gets. And though it's a huge step--and a hard won victory--the road remains long and daunting for the US's first legislation bent on curbing emissions and making a national shift towards clean energy. Tense Day in Congress
In fact, the road to the vote in favor was a bumpy one itself--even if you were to start following the saga from Friday morning. Here's what led up to the vote yesterday, according to reportage from the Huffington Post:
After a tense debate, in which the margin of success or failure never moved beyond a handful of votes, the House of Representatives passed the most sweeping climate change policy ever considered by Congress early Friday evening.But before the actual vote could be held, House Minority Leader John Boehner opted to employ a procedure designed to delay it--reading an entire 300 page amendment to the bill aloud, taking pains to present his displeasure with the legislation. After he finished, Democrats quickly called for a vote, and that was that. 44 Democrats voted against the bill, and 8 Republicans voted in favor.
The outcome had remained up in the air up until the actual vote, with the White House and the president himself engaging in a heavy lobbying campaign aimed at restoring Democratic Party unity that seemed to be fracturing.
The New York Times has Obama's response:
President Obama hailed the House passage of the bill as "a bold and necessary step." He said in a statement that he looked forward to Senate action that would send a bill to his desk "so that we can say, at long last, that this was the moment when we decided to confront America's energy challenge and reclaim America's future."And though the bill's passage should indeed be commended, the battle is far from over.
The Climate Bill's Long Road Ahead
The Senate must now draft climate legislation, which promises to face an even tougher vote--yes, it's possible--due to even more skeptical Dems and staunchly opposed Republicans. In order to avoid a filibuster, the bill must get at least 60 votes--which should prove no easy feat, considering the tiny margin the bill passed the House.
The Huffington Post outlines the road ahead for national climate legislation:
Passage of the Waxman-Markey bill by the House is the first stage in what promises to remain a difficult legislative process. The Senate is now scheduled to consider the matter, though it has yet to produce actual legislation. Once the Senate passes a bill, it must be merged with the House's version in conference committee. Finalized, the legislation will then be reconsidered by both bodies of Congress before ultimately making it to the president's desk.In other words, there's a long way to go. We'll be watching.