E&E News: EPW Democrats bypass Republicans, approve global warming bill

(11/05/2009 at 09:30 AM)

Darren Samuelsohn, E&E Senior Reporter

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Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Democrats quashed a three-day Republican boycott and passed global warming legislation today using a procedural move that could undermine support from moderate lawmakers should the bill reach the floor.

Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and nine Democrats signed off on the climate bill — without considering amendments — after trying without success to wait out Republicans.

Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) voted against the legislation because he could not get his issues addressed, including a less aggressive set of emission limits in 2020. Baucus explained that he would play a role as the debate moves forward as chairman of the Finance Committee and as a senior member of the Agriculture panel.

“I’m going to work to get climate change legislation that can get 60 votes through the U.S. Senate and signed into law,” Baucus added.

Ranking member James Inhofe (R-Okla.) urged Boxer not to pass the bill, adding that Republicans still hold firm in their belief that U.S. EPA should conduct a more thorough economic analysis before committee members vote.

“In the history of this, we’ve not been able to find a time when a bill has been marked up without minority participation,” Inhofe said.

Boxer and other Democratic allies insisted that the bill is but one step in the process and that EPA had already done enough work to give lawmakers adequate information.

“We believe that to go back to another analysis when we already have an unprecedented amount of work based on 350,000 pages would be a waste of taxpayer dollars, would be duplicative,” Boxer said.

Boxer’s quick move has brought criticism from several moderate GOP senators, including Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Judd Gregg of New Hampshire, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Richard Lugar of Indiana, and Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine. All of the lawmakers are seen as critical to reach 60 votes but signed onto letters this week urging EPA to complete its analysis before the EPW panel moved forward.