Tuesday, May 19, 2009

A Few Thoughts on Waxman-Markey and Senator Kennedy

The Waxman-Markey climate change marathon markup is underway, and I have to admit that between reading the bill in its entirety and listening to the day’s worth of amendment debate I’m tapped out (or is it capped out?). It’s been an interesting session – sometimes heated, sometimes entertaining, but always educational for me, particularly since (as I’ve alluded in previous posts on this blog) the entire issue of climate change is one which I’ve only come to in recent months.

I have to applaud the members of the committee for their overall civility and – at this stage – a surprising amount of bipartisanship. Truthfully, I wouldn’t have expected any of the amendments to be approved on a 50-4 vote, and I would like to think this bodes well for the spirit, if not the content, of the debate in the coming days.

Or is that coming weeks? Earlier this afternoon, during debate on one of the amendments, I did a quick bit of math. There are roughly 440 amendments remaining, and Chairman Markey stated he intends to work well into the evening each day (so, figure 16-hour days). Debate on each amendment has been averaging roughly an hour. Taking all these factors into account, at its present rate the committee should be done with markup in about 27 days.

Granted, debate at this point is still focusing on Title I of the bill. The more contentious issues relating to allowance allocation, a potential border adjustment program, regulation of the allowance market, involvement of hedge funds and financial institutions, and many other areas are still to come. Although many folks (a recent poll had the number I believe at 72 percent) feel something needs to be done about the climate, and done soon, I’m sure that by and large they don’t understand the ramifications of what’s being done.

Is it a jobs-generating bill? Is it a jobs-killing bill? Will it result in higher taxes? Will it result in lower taxes? Is your power bill going up? Is your power bill going down? There are a lot of questions remaining, and depending on who you ask there are just as many answers. I’ll be posting my random thoughts here in the days ahead.
As an aside, there was a report this afternoon that Senator Kennedy’s brain cancer is in remission and that he will be returning to the Senate after the Memorial Day recess to take charge (in person; I think he’s always been in charge) of the upcoming health care overhaul legislation.

I’m no fan of his policies, but I am an admirer of his tenaciousness and his desire to see health care reform through to the end – and his desire to continue representing his constituents. I don’t know if I’ll like the bill, but I applaud his return and pray for his continued recovery.

1 comment:

  1. Matt, thanks for paying attn to this legislation and providing your analysis/critique of the process. I'll be tracking your comments and learning a lot along the way, I figure.