[Posted by Karl]
When the cap-and-trade boondoggle passed the House last Friday, I noted that the 219-212 margin sent the issue to the Senate with zero momentum.
Jay Cost shows how tough a road the climate bill faces in the Senate:
If the vote in the House on this bill had been calculated like the vote for President in the case of no majority winner in the Electoral College – where each state gets one vote – the climate bill would not have passed. Twenty-two state caucuses voted in favor of it while twenty-eight voted against. The bill passed in large part because of strong support from California and New York, which accounted for more than 26% of the total votes in favor of the bill.
Cost does not leave the analysis there, also noting that a number of Senate Democrats will face pressure to vote against cap-and-trade, while virtually no Senate Republicans will feel pressure to support it:
[M]any Senate Democrats face “pressure” to vote against the party. Nine face “significant pressure,” and another six face “moderate pressure.” A lot of these members might ultimately vote yea – but many of them might not. Of the fourteen Democrats under “significant” or “moderate pressure” who were in the last Congress – twelve either voted against cloture on the Lieberman-Warner climate bill, did not vote, or voted in favor but indicated to Harry Reid and Barbara Boxer that they opposed “final passage of the [bill] in its current form.” Thus, even with 59 Democrats (or 60 if/when Franken is admitted), passage could be difficult.
Cost could have added this year’s 67-31 vote against using budget reconciliation in the Senate for climate change legislation involving a cap-and-trade system. For that matter, he might also have noted the degree to which his map reflected the concentrated benefits of Waxman-Markey, which favors the coastal power companies and doles out boodle to farm states.
Sen. Jim Inhofe thinks that Senate Democrats can muster only 34 votes for cap-and-trade. That might be an underestimate, but the signs to date point to Democrats falling far short of 60 votes in the Senate.
One final note on the House vote: the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza reported:
Nearly three-quarters of the 44 [Democrats] who opposed the bill either are on House Republicans’ target list or are running for statewide office in a conservative leaning state in 2010 — a classic bifurcation between those who are on the ballot in a midterm election and a president who doesn’t stand in front of voters for another three plus years.
But, a deeper look at the list also suggests that the White House could well have driven their vote total on the bill higher if they absolutely needed to as a number (10-ish) of those who voted against the legislation could have been cajoled — or coerced — into casting a “yea” rather than a “nay” if it was absolutely necessary.
Accordingly, even if the House GOP had stood unanimously against Waxman-Markey, the Democrats likely had the votes to pass it. It might have been nice if that handful of squishy Republicans had not voted “yea” to force some vulnerable Dems to make a tough vote. But to the extent that those squishy Republicans are in swing districts where the “nay” vote would have hurt them, the exercise in party unity could easily have been a wash.
Update: The Politico has an account of how House Speaker Nancy Pelosi whipped the votes. The Democratic sources for the story have every incentive to make this look like a big achievement, but a close reading shows it was mostly about guilting the more leftist members of the Congress into supporting Pelosi’s position.