Despite a fierce battle led by Rep. Eric Cantor (R-7th), the House passed a landmark climate change bill Friday, by the narrow tally of 219-212. The vote is a major victory for President Barack Obama, who pushed hard for the so-called “cap-and-trade” bill.
The measure calls for sweeping changes to U.S. energy policy designed to cut greenhouse gas emissions from 2005 levels by 17 percent through 2020, and by 80 percent through 2050.
Supporters say “cap-and-trade” is an important first step to improving the environment and cutting U.S. dependence on foreign oil. Backers admit the new regulations will cause energy prices to rise, though they claim the bill will actually save money for poor families.
Opponents of the bill — including Cantor — call the bill a national energy tax. The Republican whip, said the measure will cost the average family more than $3,000 and would decimate rural areas that depend on the coal and oil industries. He, along with Shenandoah Valley Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-6th) voted against the bill.
The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimated the average per-family cost of the bill at a little less than $200.
Freshman Rep. Tom Perriello (D-5th) was among those who supported the plan. Republicans took aim at Perriello, hoping to use his mostly-rural district to convince him to vote no.
Interestingly, Rep. Glenn Nye (D-2nd) was among the 44 members of his party who defected and opposed the plan, perhaps with the blessing of the Democratic leadership. Part of the reason for the extremely close vote total is because Democrats tried to protect members who would have been politically vulnerable had they voted in favor of the bill.
Nye, a freshman member, likely falls into that category. Perriello probably would, too, had he taken the leadership’s offer (assuming they offered).
Watch to see how this vote affects each man heading into the 2010 campaign.