View Full Version : Senate short 15 votes for cap and trade

07-02-2009, 05:35 PM

Only 15 more Senate votes needed for cap and trade

Darren Samuelsohn reports cap and trade backers are 15 Senate votes short of the 60 needed for passage.

According to Samuelsohn's article, the Senate count stands at 45 yes or probably yes, 32 no, and 23 fence sitters:

To start, there are 45 senators in the "yes" or "probably yes" camp, including Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Environment and Public Works Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Maine Republicans Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe.

There are 23 fence sitters. Alaska's Mark Begich (D) and Lisa Murkowski (R) need to keep their home state's oil and gas interests in mind, while Ohio's Sherrod Brown (D) and Michigan Democrats Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow are pressing for provisions that help agriculture and their state's ailing manufacturing and auto industries.

There are also 32 Republicans who are unlikely to vote for a climate bill of the shape and size that Obama and congressional Democratic leaders envision, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, Missouri Sen. Kit Bond and Oklahoma Sen. James Inhofe, an outspoken skeptic about the link between man-made greenhouse gas emissions and climate change.

Have things change so much since the 1990's? Back then, the House approved President Clinton's energy tax, also known as the BTU tax. That vote was as close as Friday's on the Democrats' cap and trade energy tax:

In 1993, the legislation containing the Clinton energy tax was adopted on a 219-to-213 vote with 38 Democrats defecting. On Friday, the House bill was approved 219 to 212, with 44 Democrats defecting.

Clinton's energy tax didn't pass the senate and the Democrats lost the senate in the following election.

The whole point of both Clinton's BTU energy tax and the current cap and trade energy tax is to price fossil fuels out of the market. Imposing higher energy costs on our economy, costs which don't apply to economic competitors such as China and India, does not make sense for a struggling economy facing Obama's out of control spending, higher taxes and ever growing multi-trillion dollar deficits.

In 1997 the Senate unanimously passed, 950, the Byrd-Hagel Resolution, which stated the sense of the Senate was that the United States should not be a signatory to any protocol that did not include binding targets and timetables for developing nations as well as industrialized nations or "would result in serious harm to the economy of the United States." Byrd-Hagel prevented Clinton from even trying to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, which also would have put the U.S. economy at an economic disadvantage to China and India.

Have things really changed so since the 1990s that the U.S. Senate would vote to give our economic competitors an advantage?

President Obama hasn't even tried to wiggle out of his admissions that under his cap and trade plan electricity rates will skyrocket and would bankrupt anyone who builds a coal-powered plant.

Have things really changed so much that the Senate would vote cause electricity rates to skyrocket and to bankrupt anyone who builds a coal powered plant?


I clipped a little bit out of this - you might want to read the whole thing at the link.


Axelrod acknowledged that Democrats lack the 60 Senate votes they need to overcome a filibuster. But he insisted Obama would not let the House bill wither.

"The vote is not tomorrow," Axelrod said. "The vote will come sometime in the fall. I think we will fashion an energy package that will move this country forward and carry the day."

According to an E&E analysis of the Senate, 60 votes is within reach for a cap-and-trade climate bill, but many concessions must be made to get the measure across the goal line.

Sept. 18 deadline

The Senate debate is expected to begin in earnest when lawmakers return from the Fourth of July recess.

Boxer will have the bulk of the responsibilities in writing the cap-and-trade provisions of the legislation.

In an interview Saturday, Boxer said she would introduce a climate bill "very soon" in July, with "enough time so we can have a couple of legislative hearings and a couple of briefings."

The three-term senator said she would build from the House bill, with plans for a markup before the end of July. Beyond Boxer's Environment panel, five other Senate committees are also expected to weigh in: Agriculture, Commerce, Energy and Natural Resources, Finance and Foreign Relations.

Reid has set a Sept. 18 deadline for the six committees to produce their pieces of the bill for consideration on the Senate floor this fall.

A more active White House

The White House, which played a major role in the closing days of the House debate, is expected to play a greater role in the Senate debate. After all, Vice President Joe Biden served in the Senate for 36 years and Obama spent four years there.

"Clearly, we saw the president was very engaged in this effort," said Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), the head of the House Democrats' 2010 campaign operation. "So he's going to be working with us very hard to get the votes in the Senate. Obviously, having served there, he knows a lot of the members."

The president and his team will face a challenge, since regional interests tend to trump party loyalties in energy legislation.

"I think you have to think what the impact is at home," Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) said earlier this month. "Certainly, I want to support the president when I can. But I can't when I can't.

In an interview earlier this month, McCain, who twice forced Senate floor votes on cap-and-trade legislation during the Bush years, said he had not heard from Obama on climate change since last November.

"I don't think it's possible," McCain said. "It's total disarray. There's no bipartisanship, there's no consensus."

Asked how Obama could win his vote on climate change, McCain replied, "Sit down and negotiate seriously. We've had none of that."

Graham said he would support climate legislation so long as it includes less aggressive emission targets and greater incentives for nuclear power and offshore oil and natural gas development.

"The bottom line, if you want to get 60 votes, you're going to have to broaden this beyond cap and trade," Graham said.

Obama will also need to watch his left flank, which includes Boxer, Vermont's Bernie Sanders (I), and New Jersey Democrats Robert Menendez and Frank Lautenberg. Consider nuclear power, an issue that McCain amped up in his 2005 climate bill to the point that it ultimately drove Boxer and three other senators to vote against the plan.

"If the president moves toward McCain, then he loses people like Barbara Boxer," said Andrew Wheeler, a former staff director for the Environment and Public Works Committee's ranking Republican, Inhofe.

The consensus on Capitol Hill is that no group will be more important to the success of the next Senate global warming bill than the collection of moderate Democrats from the Midwest, Rust Belt and West who say the climate debate so far has not taken their interests into account.

"The heart of success resides in industrial state senators who are both Democratic and Republicans," said James Connaughton, who chaired CEQ under President George W. Bush. "That's not just success in passage, but the lasting success of the program."

Connaughton, who now works to promote cap-and-trade legislation as a vice president at Baltimore-based Constellation Energy, said Obama would be smart to focus in on this group of 15 or so senators. "These guys are responsible for the manufacturing engine of America," he said. "They kind of have an accountability that goes beyond their state, to be sure that the policy is done in a way that doesn't disrupt or create incredible disruption in that sector."

There are other obstacles, too. Economic conditions and demands on the United States from China, heading into U.N. climate talks this December, make the Senate debate even more complicated, said Wheeler, who works now for B&D Consulting.

"I see the climate bill in the Senate to be in worse shape than it was a year ago," Wheeler said. "The number of issues and problems have expanded, not decreased."

Inhofe insists that Democrats have no more than 35 supporters for cap-and-trade legislation. And he predicts that Obama does not want to risk an unsuccessful Senate floor fight ahead of the December U.N. climate negotiations in Denmark, where international pressure on the United States will be enormous.

"I think they are trying to put out as pretty a picture as they can for Copenhagen, but they don't want to go there after it's defeated," Inhofe said.

"I think there's more likely to be compromises this year, because everyone understands the economy is in such a fragile condition that you don't want to pass anything that's going to do any kind of have the opposite impact that we're trying to have on the stimulus," she said. "We don't want to work against ourselves here in terms of job creation."

Maxwell, the former Senate staffer who worked on last year's climate bill, urged sponsors not to ignore Republicans who on the surface have doubts about a cap-and-trade bill, including Sens. Michael Crapo of Idaho, Sam Brownback of Kansas and George Voinovich of Ohio. Crapo and Brownback worked in 2008 on a series of agriculture amendments that never came up for floor debate because the legislation got bogged down over procedure.

"Engagement even from those who are leaning 'no' is important," Maxwell said. "You can never get them on the fence if they're not paying attention to the details."

For his part, Voinovich tried during last year's debate to offer an alternative with a far less aggressive cap-and-trade concept. This time around, the two-term Ohio lawmaker, who retires in 2010, told E&E he wants to engage Democrats throughout the process.

"I'm going to continue to try to work to see if we can't come up with something that makes sense," Voinovich said. "If I can't do that, then the next issue would be to try to get those amendments passed in the committee. And if that doesn't work, then I'll have to do what I did last time, and that's try and stop this bill from getting passed."

And do not forget Lieberman. The Democrats' 2000 vice presidential nominee no longer sits on Boxer's committee, one of his punishments for supporting McCain during the 2008 presidential campaign. But the Connecticut independent said he would try to work on the issue through a series of amendments or a bipartisan group that could factor into the debate once the bill gets out of Boxer's committee.

"Let's put it this way," Lieberman said. "There are a number of Republicans who are neither a definite 'yes' or a definite 'no.' And that's the group I'm working with."

07-02-2009, 06:02 PM
We need to keep the pressure on, especially on the fence sitters to vote NO!!!

Stary Hickory
07-02-2009, 07:05 PM
Any Republican who even considers passing this thing out to be dealt with harshly. If they even have one ounce of integrity they would not even look at a fence much less sit on it.

07-03-2009, 04:39 AM
don't worry, they will bribe enough of them to change their votes, just like they did in the House.


07-03-2009, 04:41 AM
they will bribe enough of them to change their votes
Happens way too often...

07-03-2009, 05:57 AM
don't worry, they will bribe enough of them to change their votes, just like they did in the House.


yep...beat me to this...we are soooo screwed!

07-03-2009, 08:08 AM
We need to keep the pressure on, especially on the fence sitters to vote NO!!!

They're most likely holding out for better back-room deals.

Who do you think has more bargaining power, the yes-lobby or the no-lobby (assuming there is a no-lobby)?

07-03-2009, 08:47 AM
we are screwed. 15 votes is easy to get. these guys will pay for my family suffering over this bill. i promise.