Thursday, November 05, 2009

Senate EPW Committee Passes S.1733 Without Republicans

Nov 5: Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW), Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), again made a brief appearance as the only Republican before the Committee and again reiterated the same Republican request for a complete economic analysis of S. 1733 before proceeding with the scheduled markup of the bill. He expressed strong opposition to reports that the Committee was considering the so-called "nuclear option," (i.e. moving the bill without at least two Republicans present for the vote. Senator Inhofe left following his brief statement.

The Committee then proceeded to vote to approve the Chairman's mark of the bill, without amendment. Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) voted "no" and explained that he supports climate change legislation; however, he could not vote for the bill as is. He indicated his primary objection was that he felt the 20% greenhouse gas reduction from 2005 levels was too strict and said he preferred a "trigger" mechanism the would be activated if other countries demonstrated that they were reducing emissions as required. The bill passed the committee on a vote of 11-1, with all seven Republican members absent.

A number of Democratic members of the Committee expressed their support for Chairman Boxer's decision to move the bill forward. It was again pointed out that at least 5-6 other Senate committees will be considering related bills and amendments. It was also again emphasized that the U.S. EPA testified that additional economic modeling at this time, as demanded by Republicans, would not indicate any significant changes and would be costly and time consuming. It was also noted the Senator Kerry, Lieberman and Graham will be attempting to craft a bill that can obtain 60 votes for passage.

Chairman Barbara Boxer said the vote to send the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act to the floor of the Senate was in full accordance with longstanding Committee and Senate Rules. She said, "We did it for three reasons. S. 1733 addresses a crucial issue of our time and advancing the bill is a necessary step on the road to garnering the 60 votes we need for a comprehensive bill that will be melded together from various Committees and Senators from different regions of the country. This bill is already being worked on by Senators Kerry, Lieberman, Graham and others.

"We found, after questioning the EPA extensively, that the Republicans’ demand for another EPA analysis now would be duplicative and a waste of taxpayer dollars. The absence of the Republicans during the EPA’s presentation was a clear message that their criticism of the EPA analysis was not a substantive one. Indeed, the EPA said their economic analysis was 'unprecedented' in scope and was never done for any other energy or climate bill at this stage of the process.

"The Committee and Senate rules that have been in place during Republican and Democratic majorities are there to be used when the Majority feels it is in the best interest of their states and of the nation to act. A majority of the Committee believes that S. 1733, and the efforts that will be built upon it, will move us away from foreign oil imports that cost Americans one billion dollars a day, it will protect our children from pollution, create millions of clean energy jobs, and stimulate billions of dollars of private investment. We are pleased that despite the Republican boycott, we have been able to move the bill.”

Access the hearing website for a webcast (
click here). Access the statement from Senator Boxer and link to the Chairman's mark of S. 1733 (click here).