Victory in Surprise Global Warming Vote

Opponents of federal legislation to fight global warming tried a sneak attack last week by adding an amendment to the budget bill. The amendment would have put Congress on record that the United States should stall on enacting cap-and-trade legislation to reduce America’s global warming pollution, until China and India take more action.

The amendment was defeated with 61 votes opposing. Twelve Republicans joined every present Democrat except Senator Robert Byrd (WV) to oppose the amendment. Republicans that stepped up: Norm Coleman (MN), Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe (ME), Lindsey Graham (SC), Judd Gregg and John Sununu (NH), Mel Martinez (FL), Lisa Murkowski (AK), Pat Roberts (KS), Gordon Smith (OR), Arlen Specter (PA), Elizabeth Dole (NC), and John Warner (VA).

Senators Obama (D-IL), McCain (R-AZ) and Clinton (D-NY) were absent, given the surprise nature of the vote. Senators Alexander and Corker (Rs – TN) were also absent.

Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) led a counterattack with her own amendment backing cap-and-trade in concept. The amendment won support from 55 Senators (again, with the three presidential candidates absent). The Senators who were willing to oppose the bad amendment but unwilling to support Sen. Boxer: Tim Johnson (D-SD), Mark Pryor (D-AR), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Gregg and Sununu (Rs – NH), Murkowski (R-AK), and Roberts (R-KS).
The vote indicates a significant swing in momentum this Congress. The last climate vote happened two years ago, when 38 Senators supported the McCain-Lieberman bill, which is less ambitious than Americas Climate Security Act (S.2191). Ten years ago, the Senate unanimously voted (95-0) to support a motion by Sen. Byrd that suggested the U.S. should not act before China and India.

Published: May 21, 2008