Senator Barbara Boxer (D-California) has set a frantic pace for major energy-rationing legislation so she can meet a deadline imposed by the United Nations.
Boxer wants to have climate legislation out of the Environment and Public Works Committee, which she chairs, before the 15th Conference of Parties to the Framework Convention on Climate Change this December in Copenhagen, where the United Nations hopes to produce a successor climate treaty to the failed Kyoto Protocol.
To meet this December deadline, Senator Boxer has pushed an absurdly fast timetable for the usually-deliberative Senate. Ten days ago, she introduced a draft of S. 1733, the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act. Last week she conducted three days of marathon hearings on the bill. Today, Boxer began a “mark-up” of the legislation-the first step towards moving the bill out of the EPW Committee.
Of course, most of the deal-making will be made behind the scenes. Boxer’s strategy is to cobble together support for her bill by using the proceeds of the cap-and-trade scheme to buy off Senators otherwise inclined to vote against a massive energy tax. That’s how Democratic leadership in the House of Representatives passed energy rationing legislation.
Republicans on the EPW Committee are so dissatisfied with Boxer’s recklessness that they’ve threatened to boycott the mark-up, and thereby deprive Senator Boxer of a quorum. The Republicans are asking for a full economic analysis of the bill by the EPA, which would take at least five weeks.
But Boxer used an unusual interpretation of Senate rules to press forward with the mark-up without participation from the minority party. The proceedings began this morning. No Republicans attended, although Senator George Voinovich (R-OH) introduced a statement decrying Boxer’s blitzkrieg strategy.
Last night, Boxer seemed to hand the Republicans an olive branch, by extending the deadline for offering amendments from 9 am to 5 pm. She also arranged for an EPA official to brief the Committee on their economic analysis.
This morning, however, Boxer was far from conciliatory. She indicated that she would hold mark-up hearings tomorrow, with or without a presence from the minority party. At one point, she told the room “There’s no room for bipartisanship on this issue…This isn’t us. This is them.”
While it’s still unclear whether or not Boxer has the political courage to throw Senate decorum out the window in order to meet a deadline imposed by the United Nations, her comments today indicate that she intent on ramming this bill through the EPW Committee, with or without input from the Republicans.