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Leadership Sets Key Deadline for Climate Change

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is kick-starting movement on the controversial climate change bill, with leadership setting a June 19 deadline for committee action.

Ways and Means Chairman Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.), who has been noncommittal about timing for the legislation, said he’ll comply with the new deadline.

“We have to reach it,— he said. “We’re going to make it.—

Rangel’s panel had its first full meeting on the measure on Wednesday, and he said committee members would work “every day— to get it to a markup by Pelosi’s deadline.

Rangel, who said he was informed of the deadline by his staff, said that health care remains his priority, but he’s willing to move forward on climate change, too. However, Rangel said that there are a lot of issues to deal with on the climate bill — including how to distribute money to the poor and how to use the tax code — and said Members don’t yet have agreement on how to do that.

Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) has been asked to help brief Ways and Means members on the particulars of the bill. Waxman said he wasn’t aware of the June 19 deadline but said he’s hopeful the bill can be passed on the House floor in June to clear the decks for health care reform in July.

Also Wednesday, Waxman met with Agriculture Chairman Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), who has threatened to kill the climate change bill unless his concerns about ethanol and the treatment of rural communities is addressed.

Peterson spoke positively about the meeting and said that the two lawmakers’ staffs are sitting down to try to iron out a deal. Peterson’s biggest concern is recent actions by the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate ethanol. Peterson wants to strip the EPA of that authority and hand it to the Department of Agriculture.

Peterson said he’s not sure if his committee will actually want to hold a markup if his concerns are met.

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