U.S. House passes Waxman/Markey bill to address climate crisis by a vote of 219-212
By a margin of just seven votes - one less than the total number of Republicans who crossed the aisle to vote for the bill - the United States House of Representatives voted in favor of the American Clean Energy and Security Act, also known informally as the Waxman/Markey bill, H.R. 2454.
A total of two hundred and nineteen Members voted aye on the bill, including all six of Washington's Democratic Representatives (Brian Baird, Adam Smith, Jim McDermott, Jay Inslee, Rick Larsen, and Norm Dicks). Joining them was Republican Dave Reichert, one of only eight Republicans to vote yes. Reichert had previously been noncommittal on the bill; NPI Outreach & Advocacy Director Rick Hegdahl visited his office in Washington, D.C. earlier this week to urge him to vote yes.
Republicans Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Doc Hastings predictably voted nay on the bill. They were joined by one hundred and sixty six of their fellow Republicans, and disappointingly, forty four Democrats.
Two of those forty four are very progressive Democrats who should have been in the yes column: Dennis Kucinich and Peter DeFazio of Oregon.
President Barack Obama, moments after the vote, hailed the bill as "a bold and necessary step" in remarks to reporters at the White House.
"This bill is a huge victory for Washington state," declared Representative Jay Inslee in a statement emailed to NPI.
"In the Northwest, neither the melting Cascade snowpack, nor acidifying ocean waters, nor beetle-ravaged North Cascades forests could have waited much longer for us to act. The price of inaction is too high. Thankfully, today, America has begun a New Apollo Project to move the country toward a clean energy future and away from outdated fossil fuels," Inslee said.
"Since coming to Congress, I have worked to harness America’s innovative genius to create new, clean energy jobs in our state, break our country’s dependence on foreign oil and make this country the world leader in clean energy technologies."
Representative Brian Baird said of his aye vote, "This bill will empower American ingenuity to create millions of jobs and drive our economy for generations to come. In its initial draft, the bill severely limited private forest products and completely prohibited anything from federal land from counting towards biomass energy. I am proud I was able to change that."
"Allowing federal, state and private forest products to be used to meet the renewable energy standard will save Northwest jobs."
Governor Chris Gregoire has chimed in as well, saying "I extend my congratulations and thanks to the Obama administration, and to the U.S. House of Representatives, for their vision and strength in moving the United States closer to truly harnessing a clean energy future. In particular, I thank Washington's Congressional representatives who voted to move the bill forward."
We're working on getting more reaction and will update this post as we have more details.