Campaign contributions show that Great Lakes members of Congress play key role in climate change legislation

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By Andrew Norman
Great Lakes Echo
Sept. 21, 2009

Supporters of a climate change bill targeted members of Congress from the eight Great Lakes states with campaign cash to get the measure through the House last June.


Graphic: Tom Hang. All numbers from Jan. 2003-June 2009. Source: Center for Responsive Politics

On average they gave $215,920 to each representative in the 125-member Great Lakes delegation since 2003, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a non-profit and non-partisan research group that tracks money in U.S. politics.

That’s substantially higher than the $188,938 average for all of Congress. Great Lakes delegates who voted against the bill received $41,000 more on average than their national counterparts; the region’s delegates who supported the bill received $15,000 more on average. (View your delegate’s vote and the money behind it.): PDF or Excel spreadsheet

That level of giving may be a clue to the role the region’s U.S. senators will play as the bill is set for debate this fall, said Hasan Nazar, a Washington lobbyist for the League of Conservation Voters, a national environmental group that contributed $1.5 million to congressional candidates during the 2008 campaign cycle, according to the center.

“Members from these states have had a big influence,” Nazar said.

“Industry there has been particularly impacted by the current recession and has been impacted negatively by the loss of jobs overseas for some time,” Nazar said.

The House bill would mark a radical change in the way the U.S. government regulates pollution. It caps emissions and creates a carbon-trading market allowing companies that can’t meet the limits to buy credits from companies that can restrict emissions even more.  The legislation aims to cut the country’s greenhouse gas production 17 percent by 2020, and 83 percent by 2050. It includes provisions to create alternative energy sources, cleaner technologies and more-efficient building standards.


Graphic: Tom Hang All numbers from Jan. 2003-June 2009. Source: Center for Responsive Politics

The clout of many of the Great Lakes members of Congress could factor into why they attracted more contributions than the national average, Nazar said. Great Lakes delegates chaired four of the nine committees that approved the bill before sending it to the full House, including Minnesota’s Collin Peterson (agriculture) and James Oberstar (transportation and infrastructure), Wisconsin’s David Obey (appropriations) and New York’s Charles Rangel (ways and means).

Those four lawmakers have received $1.3 million since 2003 from groups supporting the climate bill, which includes the environment and union groups one might expect. But surprisingly supporters also include multinational oil and gas producers, electric power and coal companies.

The Center for Responsive Politics uses public statements to categorize a bill’s supporters and opponents.

Some industries may support the bill because of changes made to weaken it, and because “it’s probably good to have industries be perceived as supportive of a clean energy bill,” said Dan Newman, executive director of the center’s database, which connects campaign donations and legislative votes.

Of the region’s 125 members of Congress, only 10 do not hold a post in a committee that had jurisdiction over the bill. But even among those 10 are powerful members of Congress such as Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich.  who chairs the Judiciary Committee  and Minority Leader Rep. John Boehner of Ohio.  John Dingell, D-Mich., an auto industry favorite, chaired the Energy and Commerce Committee before being ousted in November by Henry Waxman.

California’s Waxman, along with Rep. Ed Markey of Massachusetts, authored the House bill, HR 2454. They made concessions for the coal and agriculture industries, and reduced carbon-emission-reduction standards to move the legislation through the House.


Graphic: Tom Hang All numbers from Jan. 2003-June 2009. Source: Center for Responsive Politics

Now it’s up to the Senate to pass its version of the bill, which must then be merged with the House’s version in conference committee before making it to the president’s desk.

Senate Environmental and Public Works Chair Barbara Boxer, D-Calif, and Foreign Relations Chair John Kerry, D-Mass, are expected to release the Senate version at the end of September. Boxer’s committee plans an October markup.

Nazar said Senate leadership, too, is sensitive to Great Lakes delegates’ concerns. Those interests will play a factor when the Senate marks up — and makes compromises on — its bill.

“There’s a great concern about what a clean energy and climate bill would mean to those states,” he said, referring to Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

A clean energy and climate bill could help those states by creating manufacturing and research-and-development jobs, Nazar said. That’s something that’s already beginning to happen, he said, pointing to General Electric’s plans to build a research, development and manufacturing facility for wind turbines in Detroit that would create about 1,100 jobs, according to the company.
But Great Lakes states wouldn’t be the only ones impacted.

“You’re going to see input from the south, the east and the west,” he said. “This bill will impact everyone in a certain way.

“If we do it right, it will create clean energy jobs that will keep jobs in the states, increase energy independence, and most importantly curb the effects of global warming.”

More Analysis:
–    While the climate bill squeaked by the House by a 219-212 vote, Great Lakes members of Congress supported the bill by a 72-53 vote. Although like the rest of the nation the vote broke along party lines, the region had two Republicans voting for and 11 Democrats voting against.
–    Five of the eight states’ delegations supported the bill overall, but Indiana, Pennsylvania and Ohio produced more nays than yays. (Ohio liberal Dennis Kucinich voted against the bill because “it sets targets that are too weak, especially in the short term … it gives new life to one of the primary sources of the problem that should be on its way out — coal — by giving it record subsidies.”)
–    In the reverse of a national trend, groups supporting the bill gave more on average ($223,145) to Great Lakes delegates who ultimately voted against the bill, than for it ($211,445).
–    Great Lakes delegates voted largely along party lines to help kill an amendment offered by J. Randy Forbes (R-VA) that would have replaced the entire climate bill (more than 1,400 pages) with a 21-page bill that would promote, through federal grants, development of alternative energy sources, including “a sustainable nuclear fusion” reactor. The amendment would have eliminated all provisions for a cap and trade market, efficiency standards and emissions regulations, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. See how your delegate voted (PDF or Excel), and money he or she has accepted from industries supporting the amendment (including oil and gas, coal and nuclear).

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Skip to a state: Illinois Indiana Michigan Minnesota New York Ohio Pennsylvania Wisconsin Notes
Representative Vote on HR2454 Contributions from supporting groups Relevant committee membership
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Biggert, Judy N $192,550 Education and Labor, Financial Services *, Science and Technology
Johnson, Timothy V. N $73,500 Agriculture, Transportation and Infrastructure
Kirk, Mark S. Y $497,436 Appropriations
Manzullo, Donald A. N $161,705 Financial Services, Foreign Affairs *
Roskam, Peter J. N $280,305 Ways and Means
Schock, Aaron N $76,400 Transportation and Infrastructure
Shimkus, John N $414,165 Energy and Commerce

Bean, Melissa L. Y $403,510 Financial Services
Costello, Jerry F. N $252,550 Science and Technology, Transportation and Infrastructure *
Davis, Danny K. Y $140,819 Ways and Means
Foster, Bill N $216,020 Financial Services
Gutierrez, Luis V. Y $87,750 Financial Services
Halvorson, Deborah L. Y $104,194 Agriculture
Hare, Phil Y $114,250 Education and Labor, Transportation and Infrastructure
Jackson, Jesse L., Jr. Y $178,354 Appropriations
Lipinski, Daniel Y $95,516 Science and Technology *, Transportation and Infrastructure
Quigley, Mike Y $30,150
Rush, Bobby L. Y $211,758 Energy and Commerce *
Schakowsky, Janice D. Y $187,050 Energy and Commerce

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Burton, Dan N $60,850 Foreign Affairs *
Buyer, Steve N $162,000 Energy and Commerce
Pence, Mike N $212,732 Foreign Affairs
Souder, Mark E. N $103,772 Education and Labor
Carson, André Y $85,250 Financial Services
Donnelly, Joe N $212,113 Financial Services
Ellsworth, Brad N $197,033 Agriculture
Hill, Baron Y $323,403 Energy and Commerce, Science and Technology
Visclosky, Peter J. N $598,771 Appropriations *
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Camp, Dave N $498,046 Ranking Member, Ways and Means
Ehlers, Vernon J. N $82,960 Education and Labor, Science and Technology *, Transportation and Infrastructure
Hoekstra, Peter N $111,980 Education and Labor
McCotter, Thaddeus G. N $229,443 Financial Services
Miller, Candice S. N $188,613 Transportation and Infrastructure
Rogers, Michael J. N $409,667 Energy and Commerce
Upton, Fred N $452,250 Energy and Commerce *
Conyers, John, Jr. Y $254,135
Dingell, John D. Y $1,247,130 Energy and Commerce
Kildee, Dale E. Y $179,600 Education and Labor *, Natural Resources
Kilpatrick, Carolyn C. Y $265,748 Appropriations
Levin, Sander M. Y $287,100 Ways and Means *
Peters, Gary C. Y $126,189 Financial Services, Science and Technology
Schauer, Mark H. Y $150,900 Agriculture, Transportation and Infrastructure
Stupak, Bart Y $379,322 Energy and Commerce *
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Bachmann, Michele N $194,355 Financial Services
Kline, John N $217,692 Education and Labor *
Paulsen, Erik N $119,550 Financial Services
Ellison, Keith Y $119,650 Financial Services, Foreign Affairs
McCollum, Betty Y $147,625 Appropriations
Oberstar, James L. Y $243,750 Chair, Transportation and Infrastructure
Peterson, Collin C. Y $179,640 Chair, Agriculture
Walz, Tim Y $148,550 Agriculture, Transportation and Infrastructure
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King, Peter T. N $99,875 Financial Services
Lee, Christopher N $51,125 Financial Services
McHugh, John M. Y $105,150
Ackerman, Gary L. Y $153,900 Financial Services, Foreign Affairs *
Arcuri, Michael A. N $154,580 Transportation and Infrastructure
Bishop, Tim Y $207,000 Education and Labor, Transportation and Infrastructure
Clarke, Yvette D. Y $55,900 Education and Labor
Crowley, Joseph Y $302,820 Foreign Affairs, Ways and Means
Engel, Eliot L. Y $171,735 Energy and Commerce, Foreign Affairs *
Hall, John J. Y $123,770 Transportation and Infrastructure
Higgins, Brian M. Y $203,530 Ways and Means
Hinchey, Maurice D. Y $93,671 Appropriations, Natural Resources
Israel, Steve Y $218,235 Appropriations
Lowey, Nita M. Y $147,606 Appropriations
Maffei, Dan Y $160,449 Financial Services
Maloney, Carolyn B. Y $96,633 Financial Services
Massa, Eric N $141,165 Agriculture
McCarthy, Carolyn Y $157,770 Education and Labor
McMahon, Mike Y $65,044 Foreign Affairs, Transportation and Infrastructure
Meeks, Gregory W. Y $310,852 Financial Services *, Foreign Affairs
Murphy, Scott Y $85,800 Agriculture
Nadler, Jerrold Y $158,146 Transportation and Infrastructure
Rangel, Charles B. Y $599,754 Chair, Ways and Means
Serrano, José E. Y $101,500 Appropriations *
Slaughter, Louise McIntosh Y $201,980
Tonko, Paul D. Y $45,513 Education and Labor, Science and Technology
Towns, Edolphus Y $302,852
Velásquez, Nydia M. Y $170,640 Financial Services
Weiner, Anthony D. Y $125,471 Energy and Commerce
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Austria, Steve N $82,400
Boehner, John A. N $773,960
Jordan, Jim N $122,650
LaTourette, Stephen C. N $290,880 Appropriations
Latta, Robert E. N $60,750 Agriculture, Transportation and Infrastructure
Schmidt, Jean N $113,350 Agriculture *, Transportation and Infrastructure
Tiberi, Patrick J. N $383,600 Ways and Means *
Turner, Michael R. N $174,822
Boccieri, John A. Y $125,330 Agriculture, Transportation and Infrastructure
Driehaus, Steve L. Y $76,050 Financial Services
Fudge, Marcia L. Y $22,400 Education and Labor, Science and Technology
Kaptur, Marcy Y $157,050 Appropriations
Kilroy, Mary Jo Y $158,095 Financial Services
Kucinich, Dennis J. N $226,314 Education and Labor
Ryan, Tim Y $245,200 Appropriations
Space, Zack Y $256,769 Energy and Commerce
Sutton, Betty Y $187,745 Energy and Commerce
Wilson, Charlie N $166,792 Financial Services, Science and Technology
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Dent, Charles W. N $407,375 Transportation and Infrastructure
Gerlach, Jim N $426,457 Financial Services, Transportation and Infrastructure
Murphy, Tim N $497,406 Energy and Commerce
Pitts, Joseph R. N $192,343 Energy and Commerce
Platts, Todd R. N $14,100 Education and Labor *, Transportation and Infrastructure
Shuster, Bill N $223,441 Natural Resources, Transportation and Infrastructure *
Thompson, Glenn W., Jr. N $30,702 Agriculture, Education and Labor
Altmire, Jason N $252,478 Education and Labor, Transportation and Infrastructure
Brady, Robert A. Y $140,150
Carney, Christopher P. N $173,303 Transportation and Infrastructure
Dahlkemper, Kathy N $80,550 Agriculture, Science and Technology
Doyle, Mike Y $430,570 Energy and Commerce
Fattah, Chaka Y $108,500 Appropriations
Holden, Tim N $330,977 Transportation and Infrastructure
Kanjorski, Paul E. Y $198,954 Financial Services *
Murphy, Patrick J. Y $233,825
Murtha, John P. Y $665,950 Appropriations *
Schwartz, Allyson Y. Y $393,199 Ways and Means
Sestak, Joe Y $241,925 Education and Labor
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Petri, Thomas E. N $83,550 Education and Labor, Transportation and Infrastructure *
Ryan, Paul N $359,631 Ways and Means
Sensenbrenner, F. James, Jr. N $132,269 Science and Technology
Baldwin, Tammy Y $231,693 Energy and Commerce
Kagen, Steve Y $114,925 Agriculture, Transportation and Infrastructure
Kind, Ron Y $238,706 Natural Resources, Ways and Means
Moore, Gwen Y $163,832 Financial Services
Obey, David R. Y $278,825 Chair, Appropriations *
* Chair or ranking subcommittee member
Echo research: All figures from Jan. 2003-June 2009, courtesy The Center for Responsive Politics
Non party-line votes indicated in bold.
Supporting industries include: farm machinery & equipment, electronics manufacturing & services, computer manufacture & services, computer software, online computer services, multinational oil & gas, mining, coal mining, electric and gas utilities, independent power generation & cogeneration, venture capital, food & beverage, confectionary processors & manufacturers, restaurants/bars, health care products, medical supplies manufacturing & sales, Republican/Conservative, human rights, environmental policy, labor unions, hi-tech unions & communications, energy-related unions (non-mining), commercial service unions, manufacturing unions, manufacturing, auto manufacturers, chemicals, household cleansers & chemicals, aluminum mining/processing, clothing & accessories, shoes & leather products, lodging & tourism. Source: Center for Responsible Politics

Download an Excel spreadsheet of this data here.

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