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US House Climate Panel Bill May Be Ready By Early Next Week February 3, 2007

Posted by notapundit in Congress, Politics, US News.
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WASHINGTON (Dow Jones)–A proposal to create a controversial House select committee on climate change could be finalized by early next week, congressional aides said Friday.

Having butted heads in recent weeks over the formation of the new committee, House Energy and Commerce Chairman John Dingell, D-Mich., and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., have been negotiating the terms of the legislation at a Democratic retreat Thursday and Friday.

Dingell and other committee members expressed misgivings that Pelosi’s new committee might intrude on their jurisdiction, particularly that it might be given legislative authority, permanent status and subpoena power.

The news comes as a Republican aide said Dingell has apparently garnered unsolicited support from House Republicans, which would represent a substantial portion of the simple majority needed to block a floor vote. Two Democratic aides said, however, Dingell is unlikely to block the proposal unless his key concerns aren’t addressed.

Pelosi – who has already courted controversy within Democrat ranks in her failed bid to push John Murtha, D-Pa., into the majority whip’s position in December – sparked another internal turf battle earlier in January with her plans to create the new committee.

Pelosi has said publicly she wanted the new committee to raise public and congressional awareness and to gather information. She said the select committee won’t have the power to draft legislation.

Drew Hammill, deputy press secretary in the Speaker’s office, said Pelosi and Dingell “were moving forward…and something will definitely be out soon, I just don’t know when, exactly.”

Another Democratic aide close to the process said that a “fight on the floor is no longer anticipated.”

Jodi Seth, Dingell’s spokeswoman on the Energy Committee, said Dingell and Pelosi continued to talk, but it was too early to say if they had reached an agreement on legislation creating the committee.

Dingell and other committee members, such as House Government Reform Committee Chairman Henry Waxman, D-Calif., and the ranking Republican on the energy panel, Joe Barton, R-Texas, questioned the necessity for the select panel, especially given that climate change falls under Dingell’s mandate.

But Dingell wants assurance that specific legislative language to create the panel, which requires a a floor vote under House rules, would be set in stone.

Last week, Dingell wrote to the Democratic members of his committee that he and Waxman had been assured by the Speaker she would work with them in drafting the resolution to avoid a confrontation on the House floor.

“If we are unable to satisfy the concerns of this committee, however, I reserve all options available under the Rules of the House,” he added.

Although Dingell’s office said the chairman hasn’t counted votes, congressional aides say his bargaining power could have been strengthened by an informal vote at the House Republican’s retreat last week. A Republican aide said the vote was nearly 200-to-1 supporting Dingell, should the matter come to a floor vote.

Dingell would only need a simple majority of 218 votes to block a Pelosi climate panel that didn’t match the chairman’s specifications. Under this scenario, the Speaker could face similar odds to when she backed Murtha for Majority Leader even though Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md., had broad support from fellow Democrats.

Several Democratic committee members share Dingell’s concern that a new committee might impinge on their jurisdiction. A House Democratic aide said the Democrat Blue Dogs and the Black Caucus have also expressed a measure of support for Dingell. Spokesmen for both groups weren’t immediately available for comment.

By Ian Talley, Dow Jones Newswires

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