- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 8, 2007

The House yesterday included almost $4 million for a special panel examining climate change, which will have no power to approve legislation, as it voted to fund committees in the 110th Congress.

Lawmakers voted 269-150 to provide $280 million for all committee expenses, including staff salaries, through this congressional session.

The vote effectively authorized the creation of the special panel, which will have subpoena power and will conduct hearings but will not be able to write legislation.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the vote gives climate change issues the “high visibility they deserve.”

“Global warming may be the greatest challenge of our time, setting at risk our economy, environment, and national security,” the California Democrat said.

Democrats backed the bill by a 225-1 margin, while Republicans opposed it by 149-44. Rep. Jim Matheson of Utah was the one dissenting Democrat.

Some Republicans were irritated that Democrats controlling the chamber lumped the warming committee in with all the other groups, including key panels such as Ways and Means.

While conceding that the warming panel itself was important, some Republicans argued the funding for the committee could be better used to add staff and resources to the House ethics panel.

“We’ve been able to find millions of dollars to fund the global warming select committee, a committee frankly that has no duties, no responsibilities, no legislative priorities,” said Rep. Tom Cole, Oklahoma Republican.

The panel, formally called the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, will expire after this two-year session of Congress. The vote yesterday approved a $3.7 million two-year budget.

Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, chairman of the ethics panel, formally called the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, had asked for $1 million more than the $6.1 million she was given. Yesterday, the Ohio Democrat said Republicans should not be using her name to prop up their argument.

“I’m a big girl. I lost that money, but it doesn’t mean I’m not going to do my job,” she said.

Rep. Ed Markey, Massachusetts Democrat, will lead the warming panel, which will have nine Democrats and six Republicans.

A Republican leadership aide said Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. of Wisconsin, a fiery Pelosi critic, is expected to be named the ranking panel Republican today.

Other panel members have not yet been announced, but aides say the positions are in “high demand.”

Rep. Joe L. Barton of Texas, the ranking Republican on the Energy and Commerce Committee, said the new panel’s only purpose was “serving as a platform for some members to grandstand and play to the constituencies that are so insistent that we destroy our economy in the name of political correctness.”

The total two-year budget for the committees is 2.4 percent greater than in the previous session of Congress.

This article is based in part on wire service reports

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