Today, at least, no one can say that our legislators didn't earn their salaries. It was a rather long day in the House and it only just ended with the House approving cap and trade 219-212. Initially, in the morning, news reports expected the House to vote on the bill sometime in the afternoon. The afternoon came and went and the rumors began that the Democrats didn't have the votes to pass it. Then, we got to 5 PM ET and suddenly things truly turned surreal. John Boehner stepped to the floor. In the middle of his speech, Boehner put on his reading glasses and began reading from the bill. Its sponsor, Henry Waxman, had snuck in a 300 page amendment early this morning. Boehner began reading from the amendment. It first appeared that Boehner would attempt his own version of a filibuster by reading the entire 300 page amendment. Instead, he only read from parts of it and finished after about a half hour. The vote came down to the wire. There were eight Republican defectors, Bono-Mack, Castle, Kirk, Lance, LoBiondo, McHugh, Reichert, and Smith: as well as 44 Democratic defectors.
Republicans are certainly seeing this as a loss. I take a contrarian view. Cap and trade still has no chance of passing. It barely passed the House and it will have even more trouble passing the Senate. It will be all but impossible to square the two bills, if we get there, and still keep majorities. In the meantime, there will continue to be debate surrounding this bill. Astute observers may have noticed that most of President Obama's policies don't poll nearly as well. As such, the Republicans should welcome several more months of intense debate over the worthiness cap and trade.
With cap and trade moving the Senate, it means the Senate won't have time to take up such things as regulatory reform and immigration. Ultimately, the longer this debate goes on the better for Republicans. That's because the more people find out about this bill, the less they like it. Ultimately, it's not going to pass. If, by chance, it does, it won't be anything that will do anything of substance. You simply would have to pay off far too many people in order to get it to pass.
The president has already used an enormous amount of political capital to get it through the House. He'll need to use even more to get it through the Senate. Again, ultimately, this won't pass. The more political capital the president spends the better. Let him spend as much political capital on this lemon as possible. In the meantime, let the debate continue.