Second Senate vote on Kyoto-lite bill is delayed again

by William Yeatman on July 6, 2004

in Politics

The attempt by Senators Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.) and John McCain (R-Az.) to get another floor vote on their proposal to cap greenhouse gas emissions has been delayed yet again. McCain said that they intended to offer part of their energy rationing proposal as an amendment to the class action liability reform legislation before the Senate this week. However, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) warned that he was determined to keep non-germane amendments from encumbering the bill and then on July 7 filed a cloture petition to end debate and bring the measure to a vote.

If cloture fails, then the Senate will drop consideration of the bill and move on to other bills that are less suitable vehicles for the Lieberman-McCain amendment. If cloture is invoked, then the rule will not allow the amendment. It is quite possible that no vote will occur before the August recess and the Senate may be too busy with appropriations bills in the fall to have time to consider it.

S. 139, the so-called Climate Stewardship Act, would cap greenhouse gas emissions at 2000 levels by 2010 and at 1990 levels by 2016. The amendment would likely include only the first phase of reductions. A similar amendment was defeated on October 30, 2003 by a 55 to 43 vote.

Greenwire reported on July 7 that, “In pursuing the vote, McCain is following the same strategy he used to ultimately secure passage of campaign finance legislation after a bruising struggle that lasted nearly a decade. The goal, he said, is to keep the issue alive and make sure we get everyone on record.” McCain added, “It’s an old strategy of mine: Force votes on the issues. Ultimately, we will win.”

However, currently it appears that the measure would be lucky to get 43 votes in a second vote. Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE) missed the first vote, but has announced that he will vote no. Senator John Edwards (D-N.C.) missed the first vote and is likely to miss a second now that he is campaigning for vice president. The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, Senator John Kerry (D-Mass.), voted yes last fall, but is likely to miss a second vote as well. That puts the status quo at 56 to 42.

Several environmental groups are conducting major grassroots lobbying efforts to pressure several Senators to change their votes. Environmental Defense has a special fundraising appeal on its web site to “keep the heat on” called the 51 Club, which has raised $752,644 as of July 7. Targeted Senators include Mike DeWine (R-Ohio), Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.), David Pryor (D-Ark.), and Ben Nelson.

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