Boxer Okays Senate Climate Bill, Without Amendments or GOP

The Senate environment committee approved its climate change bill today on an 11-1 vote, shrugging off a boycott by all of the panel’s Republicans but missing out on the chance to consider amendments to the lengthy legislation.

070619_boxer.jpgSen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) (Photo: AP)

The environment panel’s chairman Barbara Boxer (D-CA) had offered Republicans several days to abandon their walkout, promising time to consider GOP amendments and a complete Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) modeling of the bill before it comes to the Senate floor.

But environment committee Republicans were unmoved, insisting on an immediate five-week delay for EPA analysis despite testimony from the EPA that such work would produce little new information. Boxer’s GOP counterpart on the panel, Sen. Jim Inhofe (OK), seemed to delight in forcing the chairman’s hand as he labeled the no-amendments move the "nuclear option."

The question now becomes whether the specific proposals added by Boxer’s panel — including grant programs for transit and clean transportation that nearly triple the funding approved by the House — can survive a long slog through as many as five other committees.

Boxer insisted this morning that "many things in this bill … are going to be part of that comprehensive bill" that ultimately reaches a full Senate vote. But others on the committee acknowledged that the bill’s one-party approval would not bode well for its political prospects.

Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE), the chief sponsor of efforts to boost the climate bill’s clean transportation provisions, described himself as "very, very, very disappointed," particularly given the loss of a chance to amend the legislation.

Carper submitted an amendment that would have added more than $400 million to the bill’s annual set-aside of climate money for transit, inter-city rail, local land use planning and other projects.  "I don’t like this process," Carper said this morning. "I don’t think any of us do."

The question now becomes whether Sen. Lindsey Graham (SC), the lone Republican who has shown willingness to work with Democrats on the climate bill, can provide the momentum needed to overcome the Senate’s molasses-slow pace.

Even if Graham’s work produces an end result that can win over liberals and centrists, the billions of dollars that the environment committee devotes to transportation is not guaranteed to survive that process.

The lone vote against the environment committee’s climate bill came from Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT), chairman of the Finance Committee — which has asserted jurisdiction over the apportionment of valuable climate "allowances" to various sectors of the economy, including transportation.

Late Update: While the environment panel was finishing up its work on the bill, Inhofe was giving an interview to Fox News (which mistakenly labeled it the "energy committee"). Inhofe called Baucus’ no vote a sign that the bill is "dead" and claimed that this summer’s conservative protests at town-hall meetings were driven as much by concern over the climate bill as over the health care bill. Check out the video below:


  • Rmoen

    From my vantage point, support for cap-and-trade has evaporated. Daily I read editorials, comments and letters-to-the-editor from all over the nation. When the House passed the cap-and-trade bill it was maybe 2-to-1 against cap-and-trade, opinion now is off the charts against it. This agrees with what I’ve read in the polls: ‘attempting’ to slow climate change is a low priority among Americans.

    Frankly, I don’t see Americans supporting cap-and-trade or any CO2 regulation until we have our own ‘Climate Truth Commission.’ …and no longer rely upon the climate opinions of the United Nations. The UN is a biased political organization whose climate forecasts haven’t proven prescient. The United States needs our own objective, transparent climate commission to think-through global warming.

    — Robert Moen, http://www.energyplanUSA

  • ZA

    Oh please, the theatrics are so obvious, I wish the electorate had a better sense of how they’re being manipulated. In this ‘nuclear option’ all parties got exactly what they wanted.

    The Dems have their ‘climate action’ credentials for the next election.
    The White House has some kind of hand to play at Copenhagen.
    The GOP gets the ‘victim card’ for their next election.

    Continue on theater…but this audience member isn’t applauding.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

The Senate Climate Bill Reaches a First Milestone Today — Maybe

|
The Senate environment committee is slated to begin formally voting on its climate change bill today in an atmosphere of high drama, thanks to Republican members who have vowed to boycott the proceedings in a bid to delay the legislative process. Senate environment chairman Barbara Boxer (D-CA), at right, with the panel’s top Republican, Jim […]

Senate Democrats Poke Holes in GOP’s Climate Change ‘Boycott’

|
Republicans on the Senate environment committee made good on their vow to boycott this morning’s first meeting on climate change legislation, leaving Democrats to poke holes in the GOP’s insistence on a new Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) analysis of the bill. Sen. George Voinovich (R-OH) visited the environment panel this morning to read a statement […]

Boxer and Inhofe Agree: Transportation Policy Reform Can Wait

|
Green transportation advocates are pressing Congress to refuse any new spending that’s not tied to reform of the existing system — a call that influential senators in both parties ruled out today. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-CA) joined Sen. Jim Inhofe (OK), the panel’s ranking GOPer, in endorsing another 18 […]

At Senate Climate Hearings, Lots of Transport Talk and All Eyes on Baucus

|
The Senate environment committee today held the first in a three-part marathon of hearings on its climate change legislation, with supporters singling out the bill’s investments in clean transportation even as one senior Democrat notably withheld his support from the measure. Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) (Photo: Baucus 08) The Senate climate bill calls […]