Tuesday, April 28, 2009

One More ACES Climate & Energy Bill Hearing Before Markup

Apr 27: Following three days of testimony and one day of Member statements last week [See WIMS 4/27/09], House Energy & Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Subcommittee on Energy and Environment, Chair Representative Ed Markey (D-MA) sent a brief memorandum to members of the Energy and Commerce Committee regarding the Subcommittee markup schedule for the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (ACES).

The memo indicates, "We wanted to report that we viewed last week's hearings, with 68 witnesses over three days, as very helpful in airing the issues associated with the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009. The hearings have spurred productive discussions between members on the legislation, which are continuing this week. We will schedule markup of the bill in the Subcommittee for next week, with the precise date to be advised shortly." Additionally, the two Democratic Chairmen sent a 5-page letter to Ranking Members Joe Barton (R-TX) and Fred Upton (R-MI) in response to a letter regarding hearings on the ACES.

In their letter, Waxman and Markey indicate, "This letter responds to the April 24, 2009, request from you and your Republican colleagues on the Committee for additional day of hearings on the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (ACES). Your request was surprising given the extensive hearings the Committee has held on energy policy and legislation. Our extensive hearings and the many accommodations we have provided to the minority far surpass the process you provided Democrats when you and your Republican predecessors controlled the Committee. In the past two and a half years, this Committee has held dozens of hearings on energy and climate change policy that have informed the development of the ACES text and built a detailed factual record regarding the need for action on this matter." The letter listed some 36 hearings from February 2007 through March 2009. The listing did not include the 4 days of hearings that were just completed.

Waxman and Markey said, "In total, the Committee has held over 40 days of hearings on energy and climate change policy over the past two Congresses. During these hearings, over 300 witnesses testified, including 130 in this year alone. These hearings have included testimony from numerous minority witnesses and have involved accommodations for the minority that are not required under House or Committee rules. For example, 14 witnesses requested by the minority testified in the legislative hearings on ACES from April 22 to 24, 2009. On both April 22 and 24, the Committee scheduled new panels during the middle of the day to accommodate last-minute minority witness requests, pushing majority witness panels into the evening hours on those days. Our approach to this legislation stands in stark contrast to the approach you and your Republican predecessors adopted in previous Congresses on legislation that affected millions of Americans and involved expenditure of substantial taxpayer dollars."

The two Chairmen listed five examples and said, "These are just a few of many examples of how Republicans abdicated regular order when they controlled this Committee. This track record makes it particularly difficult to see any reasonable basis for Committee Republican complaints about the thorough, fair, and deliberate process we are employing to consider the ACES measure. Nevertheless, we want to continue to take into consideration issues raised by all members of the Committee as we proceed with this measure. We therefore will provide for an additional day of Committee hearings on the ACES draft on Friday, May 1,2009."

In their letter requesting additional hearings, Ranking Member Joe Barton and the other Republican members of the committee, asked Waxman and Markey to call witnesses selected by the Republicans under Rule XI of the Rules of the House of Representatives. They said, “As you know, this legislation will raise the price of gasoline, electricity, and every commodity and service that requires energy for its production or transport. Rising prices will lead to significant job losses that will not be offset by any small number of low-paying green jobs. This legislation will export our jobs and our manufacturing sectors overseas. And this bill will do nothing to decrease our dependence on foreign oil.

“Hasty decisions on incomplete legislation never seem to produce the desired outcome, and we had hoped that we would not have to assert traditional minority rights under the House Rules to request a day on which we might all hear from some who have not been permitted to testify." The Republicans said the Committee heard from 54 Democratic witnesses and 14 Republican witnesses last week.

Access the Memo to Committee members (
click here). Access the letter from Waxman-Markey (click here). Access the request letter from Republican members (click here). [*Energy, *Climate]