On Climate Bill, Wait 'Till Next Year
A sweeping climate change bill that has roiled the Senate for three days died on the chamber floor this morning, after Republicans refused to cut off debate and proceed to final passage on the measure.
The bill, which would have mandated reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, was felled on a procedural vote, with 48 Senators voting to invoke cloture, 36 voting against and an unusually large 16 senators not voting at all. Sixty votes were necessary to cut off debate.
The climate measure was delayed at least in part by Republican opponents who demanded more time to read the measure and more opportunities to offer amendments. But the measure also got caught up in an unrelated dispute over whether Democrats have been moving quickly enough to confirm President Bush's judicial nominees.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) accused Republicans of being simply unwilling to address the global warming issue, and he took a shot at Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) for missing the vote (even though Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) didn't show up either).
"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," Reid said. "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."
But Republicans suggested it was actually Democrats who were afraid of the debate, particularly of holding amendment votes they might lose.
"The message is clear: the majority can't abandon this bill fast enough," said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). "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."
It's possible that Democrats could revive the bill before the year is out, but the chances will grow slimmer as Election Day approaches, and the odds that both the House and Senate would actually agree on a measure this year and get it to Bush's desk are roughly zero. It's more likely that a President McCain or Obama will have the first crack at it.
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