If The Climate Bill Had Failed, Pelosi Was Probably Done As Speaker

Nancy Pelosi

To get the climate bill rammed through the House on Friday, Nancy Pelosi was “whipping, cajoling, begging and browbeating undecided Democrats” Politico reports.

And it looks like if she hadn’t gotten the bill passed she might have been done as Speaker.

Politico quotes a source that says Pelosi’s staked her prestige on the bill. Time said the same thing last week: “More than anyone on Capitol Hill, Pelosi has staked her reputation on the bill.” If the bill had failed, she’d have no reputation, and presumably no way to get anything else through, derailing Obama’s ambitious plans.

Politico’s story on the last minute cajoling is an entertaining, though frightening, look at how the climate bill came to be. Congress reminds us of a bunch of high schoolers:

Leadership aides say Texas Rep. Ciro Rodriguez promised Pelosi he’d vote yes, but voted no and sprinted from the chamber. California Rep. Xavier Becerra tried unsuccessfully to flag him on his cell phone — and Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) bounded into the ornate Speaker’s Lobby off the floor shouting, “Rodriguez! Rodriguez!” as puzzled reporters looked on…

When another Californian, Rep. Joe Baca, declared himself undeclared, Pelosi and her whip team surrounded him — and burst out into applause when he cast one of the decisive “yes” votes, according to an eyewitness.

Members who wanted to be spared of the Pelosi treatment — slinked in and out of the chamber hoping the speaker wouldn’t notice them.

Rep. Bob Filner (D-Calif.) — another progressive who didn’t think the bill was strong enough — was an especially elusive target, according to leadership aides. Pelosi’s attempts to contact Filner early Friday weren’t successful, staffers say, but she began lobbying him furiously when he showed up for a series of procedural votes leading up to the fateful climate change measure. [He voted yes.]

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