Saturday, June 27, 2009

Pelosi's Moment

Pelosi's moment
By: MARTIN KADY II on June 26, 2009 @ 7:12 AM

The climate change bill may be known as the “Waxman-Markey” legislation.

But Friday’s expected vote is all on Speaker Nancy Pelosi — it may be the biggest test of her leadership as she tries to wrestle votes on a massive cap-and-trade bill from reticent moderates and farm state lawmakers. Insiders expect it to pass — but not comfortably. And the moment politically vulnerable Democrats go home, they can be sure to face a barrage of attack ads about voting for what Republicans have called a “national energy tax.”

Good Friday morning and welcome to The Huddle — brought to you today from Danvers, Mass. — where we’ll be watching the climate change roll call vote as closely as any vote in recent memory on the House floor today, looking for breakaway Democrats to cause trouble for their leader.

Also driving the agenda in Washington on a day when the rest of the world is mourning the death of the King of Pop: A potential Senate deal on health care; an uncomfortable confrontation between David Obey and Maxine Waters; and a veto threat over the F-22.

CLIMATE CHANGE CRESCENDO: With the big vote looming, Democrats are still a bit short, as Patrick O’Connor and Lisa Lerer report: “Democratic leaders are working furiously to corral votes for a controversial climate change measure, hoping to build a big enough margin so that vulnerable Democrats can be freed to vote against it.

“At the White House on Thursday, President Barack Obama declared: “Now is the time to act.” Former Vice President Al Gore, who had planned to rally Democrats en masse in Washington, stayed home in Tennessee so he could press members one by one via telephone. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi plied undecided members with chocolate-covered Dove bars in a series of small group meetings. …By late Thursday, aides and lawmakers said Democrats were within a dozen of the 218 votes needed to pass the legislation.”

THE $1T QUESTION: How to pay for it and how much it costs have always been the critical question on health reform. Jackie Calmes take in today’s New York Times: “It has become the trillion-dollar question: can President Obama find that much in spending cuts and tax increases to keep his campaign promise to overhaul the health care system, without adding to already huge deficits? Mr. Obama and the Democrats running Congress are deeply split over the possibilities.”

SENATE DEAL? Yet the Washington Post’s Lori Montgomery and Shailagh Murray report that Senate negotiators are near a deal: “Senate health-care negotiators said yesterday they were closing in on a $1 trillion health-care bill that would be fully funded by tax increases, Medicare cuts and new penalties for employers who do not offer health insurance.

“Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) said members of the panel would consider a menu of policy and financing options over the Fourth of July recess, with the goal of producing a deficit-neutral 10-year bill shortly after Congress returns July 6. "We're getting a lot closer to an agreement," Baucus told reporters after the committee reviewed new Congressional Budget Office cost estimates yesterday.”

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