A deal has been nearly reached on the climate change bill:
House Democratic leaders late last night released a revamped, 1,201-page energy and global warming bill (pdf), clearing the way for floor debate Friday even though it remains uncertain if they will have the votes to pass it.
Collin Peterson, and his Amalgamated Brotherhood of Climate Change Isn't Our Damn Problem, appears to have won just about all of his desired concessions:
The House bill posted on the Rules Committee Web site has grown from the 946-page version adopted last month in the Energy and Commerce Committee. Sources on and off Capitol Hill said the bulk of the changes largely reflect requests from the eight other committees that also had jurisdiction over the bill, including the Ways and Means Committee and Science and Technology Committee.
While environmental groups and climate change activists have repeatedly vowed that the bill needs to be strengthened, no amendments will be allowed on the floor debate that will actually allow the bill to be strengthened. Instead, the backroom deal means that coal and agribusiness get their concessions, but there isn't even a chance for green groups to try and make the bill better. Everything will be thrown together in a single manager's amendment:
Sponsors expect to draft a manager's amendment later this week that reflects additional deals reached among lawmakers, according to several House Democratic aides.
And if you want to know what the final language of the bill is before it is voted on, good luck with that. Not only is the bill already 1,201 pages, but the deal hasn't even been finalized:
Democrats are still not done wheeling and dealing as they gear up for a floor debate, with critical issues still unresolved on everything from biofuels to which federal agency -- U.S. EPA or the Agriculture Department -- will have lead oversight of the offset program that would pay for environmentally friendly land management practices.
So, you don't get to know what is in the bill until it is too late. Further, you get no chances to improve the bill. Yet further, Collin Peterson and his corporate interests get pretty much everything they want.
Keep in mind that this is on top of a bill which will not result in any more renewable energy than the business as usual model, and that will actually expand coal. And the Senate will probably only make it worse.
Without a hardline group of progressives willing to join with Republicans and defeat Democratic legislation unless that legislation meets certain progressive criteria, every legislative fight will follow this process of backroom deals with corporate interests resulting in an inexorable right-wing slide. Further, this group of progressives, which I call a Progressive Block (and yes, the "k" is intentional), needs to publicly draw clear lines in the sand long before draft legislation is introduced. Such public announcements allow the netroots and grassroots to help organize around the line in the sand. Otherwise, given the backroom nature of these dealings, there is no way for the progressive activist base to play any meaningful role in the legislative process, and all negotiation power is ceded to corproate lobbyists.
We either have the Progressive Block, which continues to give us leverage in the health care fight, or we have this disastrous climate change bill path where already weakened legislation gets dominated by Collin Peterson. The choice is ours.