Friday, October 07, 2005

Energy bill drama in House of Reps

In case you have not been following the extraordinary drama that played out this afternoon in the House of Representatives as it voted on the energy bill sponsored by Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX.):

Amid suggestions (by Democrat Rep. Henry Waxman) that the House leadership had turned Congress into a “banana republic,” the leadership held the vote open on final passage of the Barton energy bill just long enough to twist some arms and win by a razor’s edge. Of course they probably doomed the bill to ultimate oblivion because the process appeared so tainted.

Two Republican members – I am told they were Jim Gerlach of Pennsylvania and Wayne Gilchrest of Maryland but this should be verified – switched their votes under pressure from the Republican leadership, and ultimately backed this awful legislation. It finally prevailed on a 212-210 vote after they crumbled. They didn’t exactly show profiles in courage.

As I am sure you know, Barton re-wrote the legislation late last night to take out the new source review provisions. Obviously he calculated that the whole bill would go down the proverbial drain if he had kept them in.

As a result, Hurricane Barton has gone from a Category 5 to a Category 3. But it is still a disaster.

You may not have to agree with House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (who asked “Is this not part of the culture of corruption of the Republican party?”) to realize that this legislation could face the waste can in the Senate following its circus-like handling in the House. (The vote ended with a chorus of united Democrats loudly chanting “SHAME, SHAME!” )

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