In a landmark vote on Capitol Hill today, The House of Representatives passed the Waxman-Markey Climate Bill, which lays the foundations for a cap-and-trade system in the US. The vote was narrowly passed with 219 for and 212 against.
In the run up to the vote today some pundits said that the vote would pass, while others said it would fail. Conventional wisdom, however, suggests that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi would not have put it to a floor vote unless she knew she had the votes in the bag. In a vote this tight, those that fall on the dividing line can have a disproportionally-large influence on the Bill. This phenomenon was well illustrated by the extra 0.25% of permits that were allocated to refineries at the last minute in order to win over Rep. Harry Teague.
The reception has been mixed in the US, with House Republican leader John Boehner calling it “the biggest job-killing bill that has ever been on the floor of the House of Representatives.” On the other hand the response internationally has been largely positive. In a meeting with Obama earlier today, German Chancellor Angela Merkel praised the bill: “This is, indeed, a sea change that I see […] this really points to the fact that the United States are very serious on climate.” Although the bill has been widely supported by environmental groups, some say it does not go far enough.
The vote today does not guaruntee the passage of the bill into law, as it must first face the daunting task of passing the Senate. Nonetheless, Obama’s victory today gives him some important extra cards to play in the run up to the Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen this December.