This was a vote on a procedural motion that the House move to an immediate vote on the resolution or “rule” setting the terms for debate on a major energy bill. That bill, H.R. 2454, included, among other things, a “cap-and-trade” plan designed to reduce ??greenhouse gas emissions: Under cap-and-trade, an enforceable and declining limit, or cap is established on the amount of greenhouse gas pollution that a company is allowed to emit, until the overall reduction goal is met. Companies emitting higher pollution levels than the law would allow are permitted to buy, or trade, pollution “credits” from entities that emit much lower pollution levels. The rule for H.R. 2454 restricted the number of amendments that could be offered to the bill..
Rep. Matsui (D-CA), who was leading the support for the rule, described H.R 2454 as “an achievement for the American people”. Rep. Jackson-Lee (D-TX) said that the rule and the bill are “for the courageous and the willing who want to see a new vision.” Rep. Schiff (D-CA) said he hoped the Members “can support . . . this rule, this bill and fulfill the promise that we have given to our constituents, that we will serve this country not only today and during this Congress, but for the long haul, that we will make not only the easy decisions, but the hard ones.” Rep. Castor (D-FL) argued for an “aye” vote on the rule because the underlying bill would “provide a new foundation for economic recovery, new jobs, and clean-energy manufacturing. We are going to drive the development of new, clean-energy jobs that pay well and cannot be outsourced.”
Rep. Sessions (R-TX), who was leading the Republican opposition to the rule, referring to its limitations on the number of amendments it permitted to be offered to H.R. 2454 as a “lockdown rule.” Sessions charged that: (A)fter limited committee hearings and only one markup on this 1,200-plus page bill, the negotiations that have brought this bill to the floor have completely excluded Republicans and ignored our good ideas on how to stop the most economically devastating and job-killing parts of this bill.”
Sessions also claimed that “for the past 2 weeks, despite numerous contrary promises to our Democrat colleagues and to the American people, Speaker Pelosi and her handpicked lieutenants on the Rules Committee have limited open debate . . . . to talk about this unprecedented bill that is before the American people.” He characterized these actions as “simply unacceptable when it comes to legislation of such great importance to the future of American jobs and families.” Sessions also opposed bringing the bill up at the time because it had very recently been revised and he said Members did not have had time to review and understand it.
Rep. Barton (R-TX) opposed the rule because he said the 3 1/2 hours of debate it permitted was insufficient for what Barton called “the most important economic bill before this House in the last 100 years . . . .” Barton further argued that “200 amendments were presented to the Rules Committee last night. One was made in order . . . .”
Rep. Pence (R-IN) also opposed the rule. He argued that “with an embarrassingly brief amount of debate and discussion and amendment, the Democrat majority is poised to bring to the floor of the Congress what amounts to the largest tax increase in American history under the guise of climate change legislation.”
The motion to vote immediately on the rule for the major energy bill passed by a vote of 232-189. All 232 “aye” votes were cast by Democrats. Sixteen other Democrats jointed with one hundred and seventy-three Republicans and voted “nay”. As a result, the House moved immediately to a vote on the rule setting the terms for debating a major energy bill containing the “cap-and-trade” plan.