Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Republicans Plea For Delay & Walk Out Of Kerry-Boxer Markup

Nov 3: Late November 2, 2009, U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, responded to a letter from six Ranking Members of Senate Committees (Murkowski, Chambliss, Grassley, Lugar, Hutchison, and Inhofe) regarding analysis of S. 1733, the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act. Chairman Boxer indicated that she would delay the markup of the bill and scheduled a November 3, 2:30 PM hearing time for further consideration of the EPA economic analysis.

In her letter Senator Boxer said, "Thank you for your letter dated November 2, 2009, in which you ask me to ensure there is a 'satisfactory analysis' of the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act (S.1733) before the Environment and Public Works Committee proceeds with its markup of the legislation.

"I want to make sure you are aware that EPA has confirmed that the extensive analysis and supporting materials provided to the Committee are totally sufficient and appropriate for our legislative process. In fact, EPA reports that the analysis provided on the Kerry-Boxer bill and Chairman’s Mark exceeds the analysis typically conducted prior to a markup. EPA has also indicated that this economic analysis reflects hundreds of thousands of pages of backup documentation. It is far more analysis than the 10,000 pages of documentation on the Clear Skies bill that this Committee received in a prior Congress before markup of that legislation.

"In addition, I want to point out that Republican members of the House fully participated in the Waxman-Markey climate change bill mark-up, even though a five-week analysis on the bill under consideration was not undertaken until after the bill was voted out of Committee. To meet your concerns, however, and in the spirit of collegiality, I have arranged for a recess of the markup to take place Tuesday, November 3, at 2:30 PM, so that EPA can be available to answer questions from EPW members on its analysis. In addition, we are offering to extend the deadline for first-degree amendments on the Minority side until close of business tomorrow. Of course, we will follow the rules of the Committee and the Senate as we proceed."

Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), Ranking Member of the EPW Committee issued a statement on behalf of the minority in response to Chairman Boxer's announcement on the legislative process saying, "We welcome Chairman Boxer's announcement to delay today's business meeting. The Republicans want to have a markup of the Kerry-Boxer bill. So the question before us is how the committee proceeds. There are five weeks until the Copenhagen meetings begin, which, according to the EPA Administrator, leaves enough time for Chairman Boxer to work with us and the EPA to conduct a full economic analysis of Kerry-Boxer. We hope Chairman Boxer accommodates this request so we can move forward to markup with a complete analysis of Kerry-Boxer's impact on jobs, consumers, ratepayers, families, and small businesses."

The morning session of the meeting was open for EPW members to make statements and ask questions. Senator George Voinovich (R-OH) made an impassioned plea for further delays to allow for EPA to develop a "complete" economic analysis. Other Republican members did not attend and following his statement all Senator Voinovich left the meeting, leaving only the Democratic members.

Chairman Boxer and other Democrat members of the EPW responded that the existing EPA analysis was adequate for "the task at hand" (i.e. marking up the bill and considering amendments). It was pointed out that Kerry-Boxer is not even the complete bill and that other parts of the bill will be added following review by other Senate committees. It was also mentioned that various amendments will be considered which could also affect the economic analysis and that the EPW Committee cannot stop and have a new economic analysis after every amendment is considered. Democrats indicated that a full and complete final economic analysis will be completed when the entire bill is complete and amendments are added.

Following several Democratic statements, expressing dismay at the Republican boycott, the meeting was temporarily adjourned so members could attend a joint session of the House and Senate to hear an address from German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The EPW meeting was resumed following the Merkel address for additional statements and again with no Republican members present. Chairman Boxer continued the meeting by herself, waiting for Republicans to show up, until about 12:20 PM and indicated she would resume the meeting to hear EPA's economic analysis testimony at 2:30 PM. Following the EPA presentation she said the Committee would begin the bill markup.

At 2:30 PM the business meeting was temporarily adjourned to receive testimony and for a discussion of the economic analysis. Senator Boxer said that Republicans have one complaint and that is that the economic study is not "satisfactory." However, the Republican members did not show up to question EPA regarding the economic study that was completed. Following the EPA testimony and questions, and with no Republican members present, Chairman Boxer announced at approximately 4:00 PM, that the Committee would be in recess subject to call by the Chair. At 4:17 PM, Chairman Boxer announced the recess would continue until 10:00 AM, November 4. She indicated she would be holding a press briefing this afternoon.

Access the statement and letter from Senator Boxer (
click here). Access a release from Senate Ranking Members and link to the letter to Senator Boxer (click here). Access the statement from Senator Inhofe (click here). Access a new 959-page revised Kerry-Boxer, S. 1733 Chairman's Mark (click here). Access the hearing website for a webcast and link to the Voinovich statement (click here). Access various media report on the Republican boycott (click here).