The Politics of Climate Change: Boxer Invokes the “Nuclear Option”

Senate Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW) Chair Barbara Boxer(D, CA) used a procedural motion today to dislodge the Boxer-Kerry bill from the EPW committee and to send it directly to the Senate floor for consideration.


(Harry Hamburg/AP)

In a statement, Boxer defended the move:

“The committee and Senate rules that have been in place during Republican and Democratic majorities are there to be used when the majority feels it is in the best interest of their states and of the nation to act,” she said. “A majority of the committee believes that S. 1733, and the efforts that will be built upon it, will move us away from foreign oil imports that cost Americans one billion dollars a day, it will protect our children from pollution, create millions of clean-energy jobs, and stimulate billions of dollars of private investment.”

Boxer was able to dislodge the bill from the committee by a vote of 11-1. The only Democrat to vote against the bill, was Max Baucus (D, MT) who raised concerns about the economic impact of emissions caps as well as agriculture provisions included in the legislation. All Republican committee members were not present for the vote.

Ultimately this is a partisan move and will make it difficult to get the necessary vote to invoke cloture in the Senate. Though this is the first of many steps for passage of the bill, I suspect this move will scare off more moderate Democrats who have already raised concerns over the bill.  This is important because it is the actions of moderate Senators, not the Democratic Leadership in the Senate, who will likely make or break this legislation. Votes matter and based on today’s events, the Democrats have lost at least one prominent moderate senator who will likely be very influential in determining whether the party can muster 60 votes within their party to move forward on this bill. More to come…


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