June 26th, 2009
07:32 PM ET
13 years ago

Polarized House narrowly approves energy overhaul bill

WASHINGTON (CNN) - A sharply divided House of Representatives narrowly passed a White House-backed climate change bill Friday after hours of cajoling and arm-twisting by Democratic leaders among members worried about the legislation's potential economic and political fallout.

The bill passed 219-212, with virtually no Republican support.

The bill would reduce nationwide greenhouse gas emissions 17 percent by 2020 and 83 percent by 2050 through a so-called "cap-and-trade" program under which companies would buy and sell emissions credits.

Among other things, the bill would also require utilities to generate an increasing amount of power from renewable sources.

The House vote came one day after President Barack Obama made an urgent plea for congressional approval in what could be an early make-or-break test of his young administration.

"Now is the time for us to lead," Obama said during an appearance Thursday in the White House Rose Garden. "We cannot be afraid of the future. We cannot be prisoners to the past."

The president said the bill will spark a "clean energy transformation" of the U.S. economy and "make possible the creation of millions of new jobs."

"Make no mistake," he emphasized. "This is a jobs bill."

Several moderate and conservative Democrats indicated that they received heavy constituent pressure in the final hours to buck their party leadership and vote against the bill.

"I can't begin to tell you how many calls we've received," said Rep. Charlie Gonzalez, D-Texas. "And it's disproportionately vote 'no.'"

The congressman, who voted "yes," believes special interest groups generated many of the calls on both sides, including the late surge of negative feedback.

However, Gonzalez also said, Obama tried to counter much of that pressure by personally reaching out to swing members since Thursday night.

Republicans have argued that the bill would have the unintended consequence of devastating the country's battered industrial base while pushing polluting industries to countries with lower environmental standards.

Having cleared the House, the bill now faces an unclear future in the Senate, where Democratic leaders have held off on introducing their own version of the legislation.

–CNN's Lisa Desjardins and Evan Glass contributed to this report

Filed under: House
soundoff (69 Responses)
  1. Michael

    Thanks to those members of the House who had the courage and vision to vote for this bill. It may not be perfect (no bill ever is) but it finally puts the U.S. on a path toward responsible stewardship of our planet.

    Shame on those who fell back on tired and silly arguements that are little more than retreads of alarmist arguements used against the sulfur dioxide cap and trade legislation of many years ago.......legislation that also did not significantly affect jobs and costs while being very successful in reducing acid rain.

    June 26, 2009 10:24 pm at 10:24 pm |
  2. T Mckinley

    Any multi-millionare CEO who moves his or her company or corporation to another country with lower enviromental standards to make more $$$ for themselves is both un-american and a TRAITOR to the U.S.A.

    June 26, 2009 10:27 pm at 10:27 pm |
  3. JonDie

    "The bill passed 219-212, with virtually no Republican support."

    Republicans have said over and over again: they won't Obama to fail, they want natural disasters like Katrina to befall the country (to prove that the government can't do anything right), they want terrorists to attack us (to prove that everyone is out to get us), that's the only way they'll get back into power...by pandering to fear and irrationality.

    June 26, 2009 10:32 pm at 10:32 pm |
  4. IndyVoter

    No Republican Support....What else is new....Glad it passed...Next!

    June 26, 2009 10:38 pm at 10:38 pm |
  5. E.C.Coleman

    obama and pelosi are out to lunch...........
    this is the other absurd Bill.........

    Let's hope and pray that this Bill doesn't make it out of the Senate.

    June 26, 2009 10:38 pm at 10:38 pm |
  6. Biased

    Obama stated – "Now is the time for us to lead," Obama said during an appearance Thursday in the White House Rose Garden. "We cannot be afraid of the future. We cannot be prisoners to the past."

    He forgot to add that his dem majority house couldn`t wait to let the members even read the final bill either before they made them vote on it. Adding a 300 page amendment at 3 in the morning and then giving no one a copy of it to read it, seems like what the dems condemned the repubs for doing.

    June 26, 2009 10:49 pm at 10:49 pm |
  7. Barbara Campbell

    Thank you President Obama and those congressional Democrats who put the American people before the profits of the polluting energy industry.

    June 26, 2009 11:05 pm at 11:05 pm |
  8. V.R. Paul

    Cap and trade is another example of government ham-stringing its people against their best interest. Term limits must be our immediate demand now for all of congress.

    June 26, 2009 11:15 pm at 11:15 pm |
  9. Tatianna

    Governments view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it. – Ronald Reagan

    June 26, 2009 11:30 pm at 11:30 pm |
  10. The black spider

    It doesn't supprise me that the nation destructors aka GOPs all voted against the bill. Nothing ever please them.
    I bet if it was a law to legalize or promote gun ownership or send all illegal immegrants home they will all support it regardless of the cost to the taxpayer.

    June 26, 2009 11:41 pm at 11:41 pm |
  11. Samuel

    Great idea put American companies at a disadvantage when buying energy while taxing all classes for energy is just another tax that will be put on all of us by our muslim in chief. This guy is spending money like a drunken sailor and who voted for this douchebag?

    June 26, 2009 11:49 pm at 11:49 pm |
  12. Steve in Las Vegas,NV

    Every voter should watch and listen to who is in favor of the disasterous bill and who has common sense and voted no. Anyone who votes yes on this should not get reelected.

    June 26, 2009 11:58 pm at 11:58 pm |
  13. Samuel

    How can anyone vote for a bill they have'nt even read? For anyone who voted for this bill I hope that the voting public is smart enough to vote against you in your re-election campaign.

    June 27, 2009 12:08 am at 12:08 am |
  14. maripil

    Looking forward to see the bill pass in the Senate!! It is about time to see a bill of this nature take effect!!

    June 27, 2009 12:09 am at 12:09 am |
  15. Limbaugh is a liberal

    It was cold and rainy today. That PROVES the 'theory' of seasons is wrong! And if you believe that argument 90% chance is you're a republican, and 100% chance you got your science 'education' from Limbaugh!

    June 27, 2009 12:20 am at 12:20 am |
  16. Peter E

    Yawn! Same tired old arguments. In the 70s and 80s when we had an oil crisis on our hands the republicans also said that fuel/energy efficiency standards, at the time primarily imposed on auto makers, would devastate the economy. They didn't! Instead, the new fuel standards made American cars more competitive, allowed for the auto industry to survive and thrive for several decades afterwards, and the lower fuel/energy prices helped all of the economy! More jobs were created as a result! So these doomsday predictions about energy standards are demonstratably false! Reagan, the GOP messiah himself proved it!

    June 27, 2009 12:25 am at 12:25 am |
  17. Heidi

    Boehner is such a "putz." People like my husband have been waiting years for this chance. He's a disabled veteran that seeks to work in the IT field. Right now, those jobs don't go to people like him first that still need training. The training he needs will become more affordable and even more useful as these "upgrades" in certain industrial sectors start and continue. We are thrilled that the environment is finally a priority for congress. It's been a long time coming. Now, as far as job loss goes..those that want to keep their jobs will educate themselves and learn the new technologies. If they choose not to, then people like my husband will be glad to fill in for them.

    June 27, 2009 12:37 am at 12:37 am |
  18. Dee, 1 Vote

    Pres "O", we got the win, health is the next fight!

    June 27, 2009 04:10 am at 4:10 am |
  19. Keith in Austin

    If Cap and Trade passes the Senate, it will only alienate the American people more regarding the Democrat tax and spend frenzy. Public opinion is dead against this bill. This is a classic example of Liberal Beaurocrats believing that THEY know what's best! Totally sickening!

    June 27, 2009 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
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