Pelosi Charging Ahead on Climate Legislation

Posted April 2, 2009 at 12:03pm

Updated: 3:18 p.m.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) isn’t waiting for a green light from the Senate to move forward with contentious cap-and-trade energy legislation, something she plans to bring to the floor this year.

“I’ve never been driven by a Senate timetable or what they’re going to pass. We set our own pace and our own standard here,— Pelosi said Thursday. “We’re building our consensus. And when we are ready, we will bring it to the floor.—

Some House Democrats have expressed concerns about moving forward on the issue before the Senate is ready, but Pelosi said conversations on the issue “are taking us to consensus.—

During a Tuesday call with environmental and energy bloggers, Pelosi said she hoped a climate and energy bill passes the House no later than July. She also said she hoped to have Republican support for the bill, but that she’s prepared to move forward without it.

“There is an inevitability to this that everyone has to understand,— she said. “This must happen. It will happen. It is still inconceivable to some, and we want to shorten that distance between the inconceivable and the inevitable, and we want to shorten that distance to no longer than six months so we can pass this bill.—

House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) criticized Pelosi’s claim that ratepayer protections will be part of whatever cap-and-trade energy bill that finally comes.

“This proposal is going to cost an average family $3,100 per year. And it’s higher if we flip on a light,— Boehner said. Under a cap-and-trade system, he said electricity rates in his district would go up at least 50 percent and steelmakers would be taxed out of work.

There’s “no compromise— on the cap-and-trade issue since it translates to higher taxes and lost jobs, Boehner said. “In the middle of a recession, you can’t throw a wet blanket on a weak economy. You’ll smother it. And that’s what this proposal will do.—

Turning to the short-term legislative agenda, Pelosi said the House will focus on budget reconciliation, the financial crisis and the appropriations process, which she said should be mostly done by June 30. Beyond that, Pelosi said to expect action on “a big jobs bill— — the Senate’s surface transportation bill.

With House lawmakers poised to spend all day Thursday debating competing budget plans, Pelosi got in a final jab at Republicans and their alternative plan. She described the GOP proposal as “a hollow shell of a budget— that increases tax cuts for the wealthy, “makes an assault— on Social Security and Medicaid, and erases the economic recovery package.

“The American people want us to find our common ground, where we can, but they did not send us here to split the difference,— Pelosi said. She has said she doesn’t anticipate any GOP votes for the budget.