June 26th, 2009
07:32 PM ET
12 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. EricNY

    I'll tell you why there was the surge of neagtivity. Because Glenn Beck, on his radio show was spouting off about cap and trade and urging people to call their reps. If he did it I'm sure others did too. Talk show hosts have too much power in this country

    June 26, 2009 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  2. Seth

    This is the worst thing that could have happened. The 8 Republicans who voted for it should be cast out of the party. CNN, why don't you show the CBO's projection of cost increase? Yeah, because it makes the bill look bad.

    June 26, 2009 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  3. tarheel

    I am so disgusted with Congress because they are obviously going against the will of the people. How much more taxes are we supposed to absorb? All we can do though is try to hold on until 2010 and vote out the members of Congress who voted for this bill, whether they be Democrat or Republican. BTW, I'm a registered Democrat and have been for 32 years. The Democrats are just shoving bills down our throat as fast as they can because they know they have a limited window of opportunity. Gridlock is starting to look pretty good about right now.

    June 26, 2009 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  4. GI Joe

    I'll gladly pay more in taxes if it guarantees cleaner transportation and we can make sure our kids and grand-kids have clean air and clean water.

    What good will the money do if there is no air?

    June 26, 2009 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  5. Denna

    Hurrah to those who voted for the bill. Those of us who have respiratory ailments appreciate anything that can be done to clean up the air. There must be a way for industry to succeed without fouling up the air – the air that we all have to breathe.

    June 26, 2009 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  6. catmom

    Good, and I hope the Democrats continue on with passing the Presidents agenda.

    I really find it difficult to listen to Republican House and Senate and talking heads whine and engage in such histrionics. It's like they forget all the dirty tricks they used during the past eight years when they controlled Congress. If Republicans had ANY answers then President Obama wouldn't have to go to the extent he is going through to bring our country back from where Republicans took us.

    June 26, 2009 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  7. h lynn

    Awesome! We have to change the way we think about,use and create energy. I am proud of this administrations courage in bucking the same old system that is destroying our country and world.

    June 26, 2009 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  8. Tcook

    I am a Democrat and am with much of Obama's agenda, except for this. This bill is being sold as a job creation bill which is a lie put out there just to get support. This amounts to a major tax for us. Yes they say those on welfare will get tax credits but for the working expect to pay much higher electric bills, gas bills and this can add up to 65cents per gallon for gas. Food prices will increase along with energy costs. I believe in conservation but this bill is just plain bad.

    June 26, 2009 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  9. Alex

    The fact that Obama and party leaders had to practically pull teeth to get this bill passed sickens me. The EU has been proactively pushing clean energy policies even more progressive than this for over a decade through the Lisbon Agenda and look what it's done for clean industries in Denmark, Spain, Germany etc. Passing a bill like this will reduce emissions, create jobs and industries, lower our dependence on oil, and make the world a cleaner place- it's common sense!

    June 26, 2009 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  10. Republicans is smart in the head area

    Good. Despite the Neocon effort to keep us in the dark ages in terms of energy, the effort passed. Flash forward 3 years when alternative energy related industries are in a hiring boom and watch as the Conservatives claim that it still isn't enough. Conservatives suck.

    June 26, 2009 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  11. Polly

    A trustworthy source just informed me that Obama's administration is determined to collapse our economy.

    June 26, 2009 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  12. Polly

    I predict a Civil War before this house falls.

    June 26, 2009 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
  13. Michele

    Gosh, I wonder why everything is so partisan? Oh, because the Republicans can't see past the end of their ever-growing noses and learn how to COMPROMISE!

    June 26, 2009 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |
  14. David Evan

    I'm surprised and elated that this bill passed. Thankfully we have a president that sees into the future beyond the short term transition impacts of this legislation.

    I feel based on what I've seen that nothing oriented to the future will ever get support from the party the Republicans have narrowed themselves to be. I used to vote for some Republicans but now I've thrown in the towel along with my Congressmen and Senators. Yes, it's no wonder the Administration as well as the Dems in Congress are just dissing them at this point instead of trying to be bi-partisan.

    I mean imagine the Republicans taking primary effort on –any– of the President's initiative. Well, I guess that's why they were thrown out of power.

    June 26, 2009 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  15. The left is ruining this country

    Those 8 R's who moved over must be thrown out of office.

    June 26, 2009 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  16. tess

    o.k. dems and o'bama – this one is yours! when the ramifications hit and america starts falling apart you won't be able to blame bush or any republicans! your chickens will have come home to roost – on your sorry heads!!

    June 26, 2009 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  17. malclave

    And President Obama starts making good on his campaign promise to kill US energy production.

    June 26, 2009 09:20 pm at 9:20 pm |
  18. Dan, IL

    This is a big step backwards. we have these stupid congressmen like Nancy Pelosi, Hoyer, Waxman, Barney Franks, etc who are not thinking of American people. Lot of stimulus money is moving around so everybody is busy pocketing the money. I am sure all of them are be\come millionaires now. Thanks to barack Obama and his wasteful policies.

    June 26, 2009 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
  19. Adam in KC

    At least we all know who to blame for increases in our utility bills. I wish 2010 was already here.

    June 26, 2009 09:23 pm at 9:23 pm |
  20. skyhawkdriver

    Thanks you bunch of limp wrists..thanks for once again jacking it up the peoples'wazoo..thanks for making mr climate change al the bore gore a billionaire..a world leader??..I don't think so mr obama..a jobs bill??..what do you know about jobs??..this is just another tax..the chinese are laughing all the way to the bank..you people in congress should be ashamed..see you in november of 2010

    June 26, 2009 09:25 pm at 9:25 pm |
  21. Texas Teacher

    Indeed it is a job bill... and the beginning of energy independence! This is what Obama promised us... and this is one of the many reasons we voted for him! NOW we will see who the Senate belongs to... this country and the PEOPLE OR Big Business and the Republicans!

    I think Bill Maher has been saying it all.... exactly what millions of us are thinking.... strange it has to come from a political comedian instead of the News Media!!! But why are we NOT surprised? The media is big business.. .and clearly that is where their support is... no if ands or buts about it!

    June 26, 2009 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  22. James Woodruff

    Where is the vote, I have yet to see how my congressman voted, seems that would be news worthy.

    June 26, 2009 09:59 pm at 9:59 pm |
  23. phoenix86

    Everyone who voted for this Cap & Tax bill should be voted out of office. This bill will export over 1,000,000 jobs per year out of the US and into foreign countries. Everyone's energy bills will increase dramatically; the bill is inflationary.

    Did ANYONE in the House actually READ the crap that was in this?

    I think not.

    Vote out the 219 imbecils as soon as possible.

    June 26, 2009 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  24. Legna

    I cannot understand what the devil the House thinks they are doing. Have we lost our minds cause we are sure to give up more jobs. Does anyone think of the ramifications of lower tax revenues when there are fewer businesses? I hope voters see the ramifications of this bill before the 2010 elections so we can get these idiots out of office.

    June 26, 2009 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  25. DRB

    This bill should have died and not been passes. It does not matter what the Congressmen and women want, it is what the people of America want, and NO NEW TAXES on our current means of staying warm and getting to work is what a majority want. Another nail in America's coffin is being driven in. Poverty is fast approaching! This is not a Dem./Rep. fight, it is just insanity. If the technology was developed to be implemented in a large scale role out that was affordable – great! I'm all for it, but this is ludicrous! We don't have that large of a scale roll out ready and in a cost effective way to get it done. This is just about forcing rules and regulations to TAX/Steal money from those who work. It is all about power.

    June 26, 2009 10:10 pm at 10:10 pm |
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