Doggett denies reports White House pressured him into voting for climate bill

By Greg Harman

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Okay, maybe I'm the little doggie getting wagged here, but I thought those of you watching the climate bill up in Washington should know that Austin's Representative Lloyd Doggett (right, with unidentified bystander) is denying allegations appearing in Salon and elsewhere that the White House somehow manipulated him into voting for the American Clean Energy & Security Act that passed last Friday by the hairs on Obama's skinny chin-chin.

I blogged about Doggett's reversal on the climate bill this Monday.

Now, I'm going to let Representative Doggett speak for himself â?¦ through his press secretary â?¦ through me â?¦

Several days after requesting an interview, I got this:

Reports that I was threatened to vote for this flawed proposal are total nonsense; nothing would have more quickly assured my opposition. Moreover, when I departed my meeting in the Oval Office with the President and his family on Thursday night, I made clear to his staff that they should not include me in their count as a supporter of the bill. I had no further contact with any White House staff until after I cast my vote.

The only thing that should have surprised the White House was my final vote in support of this bill. Similarly, I did talk with Speaker Pelosi on Friday morning on the House floor some time after my first speech. It was a professional exchange of our differing views on the bill in which I told her that I was not prepared to vote for the bill, but would make more calls and review some provisions with my staff and might talk to her later in the day.

I talked with her again late afternoon, only after I had decided to reluctantly vote for the bill, following additional research about this lengthy and complex measure as well as participating in a number of other discussions with the bill sponsors, Senator Barbara Boxer, and others.

This was a difficult vote for me because while I have worked long and hard to achieve a meaningful response to climate change, I recognize the many deficiencies in the Waxman-Markey legislation.

This bill began weak and got steadily weaker, including the hundreds of pages that were added to it at 2:30 AM Friday, shortly before floor debate got underway. Hence, my first morning speech expresses my strong dissatisfaction, and the latter near the very end of the day's debate, reluctantly concludes that I would have a slightly better chance to seek improvements by voting for approval rather than rejection.

Make of that what you will.

There is no reason to think that intense arm-twisting isn't going on, or that the President isn't out there shaking the coop for votes. Several hundreds pages of pork suddenly tacked onto ACES attest to that.

I guess what Doggett wants you to know is: he's nobody's tool.