GOP Makes Good on Boycott Threat
The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee — or half of it, more accurately — has begun its first day of markup of the landmark Kerry-Boxer climate legislation. And once again, it’s a pretty one-sided debate.
Last week, Ranking Member James Inhofe (R-Okla.) threatened to boycott the markup unless the committee received an Environmental Protection Agency analysis of the bill that was more to his liking (the EPA did release an analysis two weeks ago, but Republicans charge that it is incomplete). This morning, environmentalists were pleasantly surprised to see Sen. George Voinovich (R-Ohio) at the hearing — but after a 15-minute monologue, he promptly departed, leaving the Republican side of the table empty.
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) chided his Republican colleagues for their tactic, arguing that the EPA analysis was as complete as could be expected and pointing out that Inhofe and most of his colleagues will oppose the bill no matter what the EPA says. He referred to a comment Inhofe made about health reform this summer, when he told a town hall audience, “I don’t have to read the bill or know what’s in it. I’m going to oppose it anyway.”
Committee Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) extended something of an olive branch across the aisle last night, when she wrote a letter to the ranking Republicans on the committee, pledging:
To meet your concerns, however, and in the spirit of collegiality, I have arranged for a recess of the markup to take place Tuesday, November 3, at 2:30 pm, so that EPA can be available to answer questions from EPW members on its analysis. In addition, we are offering to extend the deadline for first-degree amendments on the Minority side until close of business tomorrow.
It appears unlikely that the committee’s Republicans will view this as a sufficient concession.