The Senate this morning brought an early if expected end to the chamber’s global warming debate, falling 12 votes shy of the 60 needed to kill a GOP filibuster. Sixteen senators were absent during the vote, including likely presidential nominees John McCain, who opposes the bill for what he considers a dearth of nuclear power provisions, and Barack Obama, who supports the proposal, which boasts a 66 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2050.
In many ways, the contentious climate change debate, which began Monday, was a perfect display of the rancor and noncooperation that have defined the upper chamber this year. Democrats accused Republicans of protecting industry at the expense of the environment, while Republicans accused Democrats of taxing business at the peril of the economy. The partisan jousting reached a zenith Wednesday when Republicans forced clerks into the unenviable nine-hour chore of reading the entire 492-page bill aloud.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) was quick to blame the impasse on Democrats. From a statement issued Friday morning:
So now we’re in a most peculiar situation. On the one hand, the majority says climate change is the most important issue facing the planet. Yet they’ve rushed the debate on that topic and brought the bill to a premature end. They brought it down before we could vote on gas prices, on clean energy technology, or on protecting American jobs.
But environmentalists joined Democrats in pointing out that the GOP stalling tactics contributed largely to the shortened debate. Carl Pope, executive director of the Sierra Club, issued a statement of his own today:
A reckless and cynical minority has denied the Senate—and the American people—the meaningful and long overdo debate on global warming their constituents have been clamoring for. While the Senate leadership and a bi-partisan group of Senators sought to debate the solutions to our ever-deepening environmental and economic crises, the Republican leadership instead used theatrics to tie the Senate in knots for the sole purpose of “making political points.”
Looks like this is a topic better left for next year.
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