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Last-minute Frenzy Before House Climate Vote

The House is voting on the Waxman-Markey climate bill either tomorrow or Saturday, which means the Democratic leadership is working overtime to wrench arms and whip up enough votes to assure passage. Darren Samuelsohn takes a peek at those efforts. At the moment, there are 183 or so "yes" votes in the bag, and Democrats need at least 35 more:

Concerns are coming from all corners. Ways and Means Committee member Ron Kind (D-Wis.) said he still wants to see a district-by-district assessment of the climate bill's economic implications, either from the Congressional Budget Office or the Congressional Research Service. "I've got more questions than answers now," Kind said. "I don't know what's going to transpire in the next 24 to 48 hours to move someone like me and others who have equal concerns."

Kind said he was also struggling with how to publicly defend his vote -- should he opt to support the legislation. "It's a big bill," he said. "It's complicated. You've got to be able to explain this in 30 seconds to a minute with folks back home for them to feel comfortable with it. I haven't been able to figure that out yet."...

Amid all the chaos, several top Democratic leaders expect a victory. "I think we're going to have the votes, yes," said Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.). ...

Only a handful of moderate Republicans remain in limbo, and none of them are showing their cards yet. "Lot of details, lot of moving parts, doing a lot of listening right now," said Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-N.J.). "No decision made." "I'm still in the investigatory stages," said Reichert, citing his former line of work as a detective. "We're still in the process of gathering facts. This was a great meeting."

Here's a useful E&E chart listing the definite "ayes," the surefire "nays," and the fence-sitters. The terrain looks favorable for passage, but nothing's certain. Technically, 27 Republicans are "maybes" (and two—Mary Bono Mack of California and Chris Smith of New Jersey—will likely vote yes), although it's doubtful that more than three to five Republicans end up backing the bill. The GOP leadership is working hard to unify the opposition, since they'd like to make cap-and-trade a campaign issue in next year's midterms. See Lisa Lerer's excellent Politico story today for more on the climate swingers.

One thing to watch will be how the House results affect the Senate's calculus on energy issues. In Indiana, for instance, Democrat Barron Hill voted for the bill in the energy committee, while the state's three other Dem representatives—Brad Ellsworth, Joe Donnelly, and Peter Visclosky—are now hemming and hawing. If all or most of Indiana's Democratic delegation votes for Waxman-Markey, that makes it a lot harder for Evan Bayh to oppose a climate bill in the Senate. A similar situation could apply in Ohio and Michigan.

Meanwhile, this afternoon, President Obama held a press conference and strongly urge the House to pass the bill, which he touted as "jobs bill." (Incidentally, Obama's brief remarks, which went light on the dangers of global warming and heavy on the economic upsides of promoting clean energy, pretty closely mimicked a recent Third Way polling memo.) So the White House is going out on a limb for this bill. Plus, there's the usual lobbying onslaught by both greens and industry groups. Kate Sheppard has a great piece on how some environmental groups, dissatisfied with the House bill's weak emission goals, are now hoping to get it strengthened in the Senate...

--Bradford Plumer