Friday, June 06, 2008

Senate Ends Debate On Climate Change Bill 48-36

Jun 6: As expected, the U.S. Senate voted 48-36 (16 not voting) on a cloture motion (60 votes necessary) that effectively ended the debate on S. 3036, the Boxer-Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act [See WIMS 6/5/08]. Many are viewing the vote as progress considering that a majority of the Senate (48 voting & 6 committed) support moving forward on legislation. Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) said, "While the bill could not survive continuing delay tactics, it garnered important new momentum that sets the stage for quick action in the next Congress."

Four Democrats voted with Republicans on the measure: Senators Byron Dorgan (ND), Mary Landrieu (LA), Tim Johnson (SD) and Sherrod Brown (OH). Seven Republicans voted with Democrats including: John Warner (VA), Susan Collins (ME), Mel Martinez (FL), Elizabeth Dole (NC), John E. Sununu (NH), Olympia Snowe (ME) and Gordon Smith (OR). Presidential candidates John McCain (R-AZ) and Barak Obama (D-IL) were both absent but indicated that they would have voted for the motion.

U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, and a sponsor of the bill issued a statement on the Senate's vote to end a Republican filibuster and said, "Today's vote is a landmark moment in the fight against global warming. We had 54 Senators come down on the side of tackling this crucial issue now -- because it is one of the greatest challenges of our generation [Note: six Senators who couldn’t be at the vote entered statements that they would have voted “yes”]. This strong vote is up from 38 votes in 2005, and proves that our nation is ready to assume the mantle of leadership on global warming. What is extraordinary is that both Presidential candidates weighed in, in favor of addressing this issue now. Therefore, as Chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, I will continue to work with my colleagues to address their concerns as we anxiously await the inauguration of a President who will work with us to protect our planet and our people from the ravages of global warming."

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) issued a statement saying, "We saw this morning yet another example of Bush-McCain Republicans refusing to address one of the most important issues of our time. Given the opportunity to solve the urgent energy and economic crises of today and environmental crises of tomorrow, they ran away from the debate. Time and again Democrats have given Republicans the opportunity to address the rising cost of energy. We have tried to curb global warming, lower gas prices and invest in renewable energy -- but Republicans have squandered each opportunity. When you look at who Republicans have chosen as the new standard-bearer, this is not entirely surprising: Senator McCain says global warming is one of his top issues, but when he has the chance to do something about it, he doesn’t even show up to work. Democrats will continue fighting to reduce the carbon pollution that causes global warming, create good-paying green jobs here at home and break our dependence on oil.”

U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) issued a statement on what he called the "Climate Tax bill" saying, “The message is clear: the majority can’t abandon this bill fast enough. So now we’re in a most peculiar situation. On the one hand, the majority says climate change is the most important issue facing the planet. Yet they’ve rushed the debate on that topic and brought the bill to a premature end. They brought it down before we could vote on gas prices, on clean energy technology, or on protecting American jobs. This whole exercise will have had no effect on either climate change or gas prices. But it does send an unambiguous message: on the issue of high gas prices, our friends on the other side have no plan to lower the price at the pump.”

Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), Ranking Member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, issued a brief statement saying, “This bill was doomed from the start. The committee process was short-circuited, the floor debate was circumvented and the amendment process was derailed. I do not see how the Democrats use this failed bill as any kind of model for future success. As I suspected, reality hit the U.S. Senate when the economic facts of this bill were exposed. When faced with the inconvenient truth of the bill’s impact on skyrocketing gas prices, very few Senators were willing to even debate this bill.”

Access the roll call vote (click here). Access legislative details on S. 3036 with links to the Congressional Record and floor debates (click here). Access a release from EDF (click here). Access a release from Senator Boxer (click here). Access a release from Senator Reid (click here). Access a release from Senator McConnell (click here). Access the statement from Senator Inhofe (click here). Access links to various media reports and statements on the Senate action (click here). [*Climate]