- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 27, 2009

The House on Friday narrowly approved a sweeping climate change bill backed by Democratic leaders and President Obama.

By a vote of 219-212, the chamber approved a bill that, starting in 2012, would limit carbon dioxide pollution, require increased usage of renewable energy and require that consumer products be more energy efficient.

Only eight Republicans voted for the bill, and 44 Democrats defected from their party to vote against it. Earlier in the day, the House rejected a Republican alternative to the Democratic climate bill. The proposal, defeated 172-255, would have scuttled a proposed cap-and-trade system to cut greenhouse gases.

Obama implores Senate to pass climate bill

The focus on climate change legislation now shifts to the Senate, where Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada wants to bring a bill to the floor by mid-September. To do so, however, he will have to overcome regional divisions within his party over renewable energy and over the cuts in greenhouse-gas emissions.

The House bill would, for the first time:

• Force cuts in domestic greenhouse-gas emissions by 17 percent in 2020 and 83 percent in 2050 through an expensive cap-and-trade permit system on heavy emitters and the oil and gas industry.

• Mandate greater renewable energy usage.

• Boost appliance and building efficiency standards.

• Pay for domestic and overseas plant and forest conservation.

The outcome was a victory for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry A. Waxman, both of California, who spent most of the day persuading reluctant lawmakers to put aside their concerns and vote for the bill.

Passage also gave a boost to Mr. Obama, who personally lobbied wavering Democrats over 24 hours to ensure passage.

Mrs. Pelosi said the measure was about creating jobs. Rep. John A. Boehner, the House Republican leader, said the bill was rushed.

While it appeared uncertain Friday whether they would have the votes to pass the bill, Mrs. Pelosi and Mr. Waxman prevailed on a key procedural test early in the day.

A motion to begin debate passed by 217-205, and a handful of known supporters of the final bill missed that procedural vote.

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