Lawmakers Reach Deal On Climate Committee

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has agreed to a compromise that ends a three-week turf battle with one of her most powerful and senior committee chairmen over a special panel on climate change.

Rep. John D. Dingell (D-Mich.), chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee and the most senior member of the House, had objected to creation of the select committee that Pelosi said would put added focus on global warming.

In a letter to Pelosi that his office made public yesterday, Dingell said he was pleased "we have been able to successfully resolve questions concerning the authorities and responsibilities" of the new committee.

Under the agreement, the new committee -- to be chaired by Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) -- will hold hearings and recommend legislation but will have no authority to approve legislation. It also will expire at the end of this Congress.

Standing committees, such as Dingell's energy panel, will have first shot at witnesses if there is a conflict, and the special panel must consult with Pelosi's office before issuing subpoenas.

Pelosi's announcement that she wanted to have a special climate-change committee caused key committee chairmen, including Dingell, to worry about losing power on the biggest environmental issue facing Congress.

In creating the committee, Pelosi said she simply wanted to show that Democrats are making climate change a priority, promising legislation by summer.

But many in the House saw it as a way for Pelosi, who favors aggressive action on climate change, to outflank Dingell, especially as the issue relates to cutting carbon emissions from automobiles by requiring more fuel-efficient cars.

Dingell has long opposed efforts to boost fuel-economy requirements.

Nevertheless, Dingell has promised to move aggressively on the climate issue, planning a series of hearings beginning next week, and he has asked former vice president Al Gore to testify.

-- Associated Press

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