Boxer Pushes Through Climate Bill Despite GOP Boycott

Posted November 5, 2009 at 8:47am

Senate Environment and Public Works Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) on Thursday pushed climate change legislation through her committee on an 11-1 vote despite a boycott of the markup by panel Republicans. The lone no vote for her bill was from Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.).Baucus, citing his concerns with the bill’s effects on agriculture and other issues, said he had hoped to make changes to the bill during the EPW markup. “Unfortunately, these concerns have not been resolved, so I am not able to vote for this legislation,— Baucus said.Ranking member James Inhofe (R-Okla.), who appeared at the start of the markup but left before voting began, decried the “nuclear option— of moving ahead without GOP participation. “We have not been able to find a time when a bill was marked up without minority participation— in the past, he said before reiterating his objection to continuing the markup. Republicans wanted the Environmental Protection Agency to provide a full analysis of the bill’s effects before considering it.Because the committee’s rules require two members of the GOP to participate in votes to amend a bill — but not to report a bill out of committee — Boxer was forced to move the bill without any changes.“It is regrettable that we could not move forward in a more constructive way to better reflect the will of this committee,— Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) said as he backed Boxer’s decision.While Democrats sought to lay the blame for the collapse of the committee process on Republicans, they were clearly frustrated even as they voted to report out the bill. “I’m doing this because I think we need a beginning,— Sen. Amy Klobachar (D-Minn.) said.“This is a little disappointing,— Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) said. “Because our Republican colleagues have boycotted this process, each of us forgo— the legislative process.Republicans “put us in an impossible position by simply not showing up for work,— Whitehouse added.Following the vote, Baucus said that he would continue to work on his own version of the bill and that he still hopes to move a bill out of the Finance Committee this year.