President Obama, seeing support for his preferred climate policies slipping away, will meet with the House Energy and Commerce Committee tomorrow to discuss the bill.
The session comes at a critical juncture for Obama's energy and environmental agenda. Democratic leaders last week postponed plans for a markup because they did not have enough votes to pass the legislation out of subcommittee, and closed-door talks since then with about a dozen conservative and moderate Democrats from districts with strong ties to industry have yet to yield an agreement.
Like this year's successfully enacted stimulus package and budget resolution, Obama has not given specific legislative language to the Congress to meet his goals on climate change and energy. Instead, he has left the details for lawmakers to work out among themselves.
One key Energy and Commerce Committee Democrat said he expect no major departure in the administration's legislation strategy as he heads this week to meet with Obama at the White House.
"I think what he's going to do is say, 'Please, don't vote no. Let's see what we can work out,'" said Rep. Gene Green (D-Texas), who will also visit today with Obama during a White House event to celebrate Cinco de Mayo -- a day earlier than the actual holiday.
I wrote last Friday that the climate bill was hanging by a thread, so this is a good time for the White House to make their priorities known. We are starting to see some pushing from outside groups like MoveOn to get lawmakers to sign on, but so far the real trouble comes from conservative Democrats on the panel. As the Times article notes, only Mary Bono Mack (R-CA) has a shot to vote for the bill from the GOP. The undecided moderates and Blue Dogs have competing interests from the corporate polluters they represent, be it coal or oil or whoever.
Repower California has started running TV ads to get Bono Mack and others to support the climate and energy bill. We have an inside/outside effort to counteract the interests of polluters and finally set a national energy policy for the 21st century.