House Republicans are vowing to stop the Environmental Protection Agency from taking a unilateral approach on global warming and imposing strict new regulations that could impact broad segments of the economy. They are holding a hearing Tuesday about a new GOP bill aimed at stopping the EPA in its tracks.
But the hearing appeared to be difficult for the former chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, Rep. Henry Waxman. Waxman is the architect of the cap-and-trade legislation that passed the House in the last Congress and has long fought for strict new rules to address climate change.
Waxman appeared incredulous at testimony by Sen. James Inhofe, a top-ranking environment official for the GOP in Congress’s upper chamber, who called global warming a “hoax” and warned of the steep costs on the economy of regulations to address the issue.
After asking Inhofe a few brief questions to set the stage, including whether Inhofe had a background in science (he doesn’t), Waxman then launched into a sternly worded speech on the dangers of climate change.
Inhofe sought to interrupt, but Waxman cited his privilege as a member of the committee holding the hearing to shut his fellow lawmaker down.
“It’s my turn now,” Waxman said, “you’re in the House” – not the Senate where Inhofe holds court in his committee.
At the end of Waxman’s speech, Inhofe tried again, asking the Republican subcommittee chairman Rep. Ed Whitfield for extra time to respond to Waxman’s “questions.”
Waxman, visibly steamed, demanded to know to which questions Inhofe would be responding. He further objected to Inhofe getting extra time to respond, saying Republicans on the committee could “yield their time” for Inhofe to speak.
The testy skirmish continued when Whitfield asked another Democrat, Rep. John Dingell, if he would yield time for Inhofe since his only remarks were to welcome his “friend” Inhofe to the committee. But Dingell sided with his fellow Democrat Waxman, saying: “I really don’t want to.”
In the end, Inhofe had to leave the committee for other business before he ever got his chance at the last word on Waxman, the determined environmentalist.
Generally speaking, Democrats have appeared to find their new life in the minority difficult. Their power to hold real hearings taken away by voters, Democrats recently held a “mock hearing” on the economy. And of staffers not laid-off by the Nov. 2 elections, many are fleeing the House for lobbying jobs on K Street and other opportunities, fed up with their new life in the minority, Democratic aides say.