The global warming debate is heating up in the House, leading to the kind of quirky moments that are a common feature of life on the Hill.
Next week, Henry Waxman (D-CA), will bring his Waxman-Markey climate-control bill before the Energy and Commerce Committee he chairs.
Just minutes after Waxman announced he was "very, very close" to agreement on the legislation, his Republican counterpart held his own press conference, using some choice words to downplay Waxman's confidence.
Rep. Joe Barton, the ranking Republican on the Energy and Commerce Committee, said Waxman "doesn't have the nuts" to pass his energy bill.
Barton, who represents Texas' 6th District, has received $2.5 million from the oil, gas, and utility lobbies over the course of his political career according to the Center for Responsive Politics. His proposal has no cap-and-trade provision and amends the definition of "air pollutant" to exclude carbon dioxide.
A press release published by Barton's office this week argues against the Waxman-Markey bill by warning that the CO2 caps included in the bill would impede economic growth, and put the U.S. on par with the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere.
"...you can test drive Waxman-Markey by sailing down to Haiti, because current CO2 emissions are where Waxman-Markey wants America's to be in 2050. Radical environmentalists think such a CO2 level will be heaven on Earth, but the place that has actually achieved it is a nation swimming in bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A and E, typhoid fever, dengue fever and malaria, with 47 percent illiteracy and a life expectancy of 49 years. So excuse me if I remain unconvinced."
You can see the full press release here.
ANP producer Lagan Sebert asked Rep. Barton to clarify the connection between Waxman's proposals and the Haitian economy.
ANP's Sebert then asked Rep. Barton if he agreed with Pentagon-commissioned reports (see NY Times article from April, 2007 "Global Warming Called Security Threat") citing climate change as a possible threat to national security.
Barton and Waxman will be sure to spar over these numbers - and possibly Haiti and who has the nuts - next week as the Waxman-Markey Bill is marked up in their committee.
How much traction Barton's economic argument gets with Waxman's fellow Democrats is something the White House will be watching closely.