The Senate climate change bill, or “Kerry-Boxer,” as it’s called, just passed out of the Environment and Public Works Committee in the Senate—with no Republicans voting for it. In fact, no Republicans have attended the bill’s markup in the last three days; they’ve been boycotting it. Claiming that they need to wait for a more comprehensive analysis by the EPA, all seven EPW Republicans refused to show up to Committee meetings in protest of how “quickly” the bill is rushed through the committee. This is despite the fact, of course, that the House passed their climate bill in June and the Senate bill is not overwhelmingly different.
The most outspoken critic of the bill’s allegedly unfair passage through Committee, and apparently the most ardent defender of EPA analyses, was Oklahoma Senator Jim Inhofe. No heed should be paid to Inhofe’s childish maneuvering and mendacious quotations. He would never support any form of climate change legislation, and he would do whatever was in his power to defeat any such bill under any circumstances.
The problem is the other six Senators on the committee, two of whom could potentially be reaches as Republican supporters of climate legislation—George Voinovich (OH) and Lamar Alexander (TN). Granted, they probably wouldn’t have ended up voting for the final bill anyway, but this bill will need some moderate Republican support if it’s going to have to find 60 votes in the Senate to overcome a filibuster (Inhofe would no doubt personally carry out the filibuster for months if he had to).
Now that the Democrats have passed the bill through Committee without any Republican input, moderate Republicans outside of the Committee—who may have been a much better hope for cloture votes—are criticizing Chairman Boxer’s move. Snowe and Collins (ME), Lugar (IN), Murkowski (AK), Gregg (NH), and Graham (SC), all supported the delay, and now bemoan the bill’s movement out of Committee.
Hearing Republicans talk about climate legislation, as I did yesterday when I went to a panel on which Lisa Murkowski spoke, is incredibly frustrating. Their solution to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is largely focused on increased oil and gas development in the United States. There will no doubt have to be big—and detrimental—compromises made. But hopefully the most esteemed legislative institution in our country can overcome its penchant for juvenility and pass a bill that will actually address the most urgent global threat of our time.
Images: Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) (schema-root.org)