|Here is an excerpt from the letter (PDF):
In light of the tremendous importance of this legislation, LCV has made the unprecedented decision that we will not endorse any member of the House of Representatives in the 2010 election cycle who votes against final passage of this historic bill.
Of course, support for H.R. 2454 alone is not enough action to secure an endorsement from LCV. As always, we will consider many other factors, including viability, vulnerability, recent and lifetime LCV scores, and demonstrated environmental leadership, in our final endorsement decisions.
After far too many years of inaction, missed opportunities, and major steps backwards, H.R. 2454 will begin to move our country toward a new energy future by putting a firm limit on global warming pollution, improving energy efficiency, and investing in renewable energy.
LCV believes the vote on final passage is the most important environmental vote to date in the House of Representatives, which is why we will not endorse anyone who opposes this bill, assuming it remains in a form we support. To that end, it is critically important that members of Congress oppose weakening amendments or a motion to recommit H.R. 2454, and support strengthening amendments. We will strongly consider scoring votes on this bill in the 2009 Scorecard.
I am glad the LCV has drawn a line. Drawing lines is something that environmental groups need to do more often. However, we need to draw lines in the sand in the right places, and not just draw them for the sake of drawing them. This isn't the right place.
Instead of drawing a line on voting for the bill in its current form, the LCV could have made the strengthening amendments the line in the sand. Other work is being done on this, such as MoveOn working to get three strengthening amendments on the floor.
However, by drawing a line on passage, rather than the strengthening amendments, they could actually end up working against members of Congress who tried to strength the bill. Consider:
Potentially, this could put the LCV in a position where it works against members of Congress who voted to strengthen the bill..
- Representative A votes for all strengthening amendments, but votes against the final bill because s/he feels it is too weak. The LCV will not endorse Representative A.
- Representative B votes against all strengthening amendments, but votes in favor of final passage. The LCV will still consider endorsing Representative B.
The LCV could have at least made clear what they meant by making certain the bill "remains in a form we support." Detailing minimum standards for a bill they could support is another way a line could have been drawn, and served as a threat to the Senate. However, they left their minimums standards vague to both their members and to members of Congress.
Further, in regard to the LCV's assumption that the bill will remain in a form that they can support, the bill doesn't even exist in its final form yet. The final language hasn't been released, and the amendments to the bill are currently unknown. So they are actually threatening members to vote for bill that they don't even know if they can support it or not.
As the LCV says on its website, the climate change bill needs to be both strengthened and passed. Today, they have decided to opt only for passage, rather than, and possibly at the expense of, strengthening it.