What: All Issues : Environment : Global Warming : H. Res. 202, providing for House committee expenses in the 110th Congress/On agreeing to the resolution (2007 house Roll Call 131)
 Who: All Members : New York, District 2 : King, Pete
[POW!]
 
H. Res. 202, providing for House committee expenses in the 110th Congress/On agreeing to the resolution
house Roll Call 131     Mar 08, 2007
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This vote was on passage of a $280 million resolution to fund the operations of 20 committees during the 110th Congress, a 7.4 percent overall increase over committee spending over the most recent two-year Congress. The most controversial elements of the measure were funding for a new select committee to investigate the threats of global warming and the level of funding for the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, also known as the ethics committee.

The Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming was a priority of Speaker Nancy Pelosi's (D-Calif.). Even though the panel does not have legislative authority and instead is designed simply to make recommendations, it faced some opposition in both parties. Republican opposition was centered both on the party's skepticism of policies to reduce greenhouse gases generally and objections as to how the panel was created (through a parliamentary maneuver embedded in the rules for debate of the committee funding resolution, see Roll Call 127). Some Democratic chairman of existing committees with jurisdiction over the issue of climate change were worried that the new panel would trample on their turf, although Pelosi was able to earn their support before the vote on the resolution.

The ranking Republican member on Rules Committee, Rep. David Dreier (Calif.), said the process was "outrageous," as he said Republicans had been shut out of the discussions. Republicans also indicated that the money for the panel ($3.7 million over the next two years) would be better spent on the ethics committee.

Dreier said during floor debate that while most committees can get by with a "very modest increase" of 2.6 percent over their funding levels during the 109th Congress (the amount of increase when the new Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming Committee's funding is not included in that percentage), the ethics committee "absolutely cannot."

The House Committee on Standards and Official Conduct was slated to receive $5 million under the resolution, a small increase over the previous Congress but $1 million less than the committee requested. Democrats defended the funding levels as adequate and reflective of the difficult choices foisted upon them by the ever-growing federal deficit.

In the rules package for the 110th Congress, the House imposed on the ethics committee "substantial new responsibilities," Dreier said. "And they are still in a position where they have to now provide timely advice to every single Member who makes a request for the application of this rule," in addition to the committee's obligation to investigate "allegations of wrongdoing whenever they do occur," Dreier added.

The panel, he said, has already fallen behind. "Appropriation season is well under way, and we have absolutely no guidance whatsoever about the new ethics standards for earmarks. We have new travel and gift rules, but those regulations created as many questions as they answered," Dreier continued.

"Today we'll see where Democrats' true priorities lie," added Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas).

An angry Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-Ohio), who chairs the ethics committee, responded: "You're not going to use my committee on the floor," said, accusing Sessions of political gamesmanship and leaving the House floor in haste.

The resolution funding House committees, including funding for a new committee on climate change, passed the House by 269-150. All but one Democrat voted for the funding measure, and 44 Republicans broke ranks to support the resolution. Thus, House committees were granted $280 million for operating costs for the next two years.

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