One of the more inexplicable votes that soon-to-be-former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi forced on her Democratic caucus was on the issue of carbon rationing. Despite there being no public demand for it and no chance of anything similar to the Waxman-Markey climate bill passing in the Senate, Pelosi nonetheless impelled Democrats to vote for it.
That decision came back to haunt many House Democrats yesterday as at least 24 of them are now looking for other lines of work:
Democrats who voted for the controversial House climate bill were slaughtered at the ballot box, including Rep. Rick Boucher, the 14-term Virginian who helped broker some of the key deals instrumental to its June 2009 passage. In the Senate, several reliable green advocates also went down to opponents who derided tough new environmental policies. [...]
There’s no hiding the House Democrats’ bloodbath, with more than two dozen members who voted for the Pelosi-led climate bill losing their seats, and more likely to fall as the final tallies come in. The outcome sends a strong signal to moderate lawmakers as they consider any risky votes in future Congress’ on energy and environmental issues. [...]
Boucher’s defeat is perhaps the most stinging given the central role he played in brokering key pieces of the legislation to make it more friendly to his home state’s coal industry. Over the last 18 months, Boucher has defended his work on the climate bill, saying it’s much better than the alternative of Environmental Protection Agency emission control regulations.
But his Republican opponent, state House Majority Leader Morgan Griffith, still found political leverage and ultimately won, 51 percent to 47 percent.
“I don’t think there’s any question about it, cap and trade was the issue in the campaign,” Andy Wright, a former Boucher chief of staff, told POLITICO. “If Rick had voted no, he wouldn’t have had a serious contest.”
Next door to Boucher, freshman Rep. Tom Perriello (D-Va.), a poster child for environmentalists, also lost his seat to Republican state Sen. Robert Hunt, who pulled out a 51 to 47 percent victory. Unlike some of his colleagues, Perriello was unapologetic about his cap-and-trade vote, and environmental groups poured money into his campaign in an effort to prove that climate bill supporters could prevail in tough races.
One can’t help but get the impression that Democrats from Pelosi on down completely believed their own press releases and thought that voting for a bill that would significantly raise energy costs and create massive new government bureaucracies would be a good thing to do after two years of terrible unemployment.
Update 1:50. In his post-election press conference today, President Obama acknowledged this trend by saying the following:
“I think there were a lot of Republicans that ran against the energy bill that passed in the House last year. And so it’s doubtful you could get the votes to pass that through the House this year, or next year, or the year after.”