U.S. Senate and Carbon Emissions: A Disapproval Resolution

Efforts to codify carbon emissions reductions by the U.S. government continue to be stalled in Congress. Senator Murkowski (R, AK) has introduced a disapproval resolution in order to block the EPA from implementing regulatory measures to reduce carbon emissions. The resolution is a little-known procedural motion used by the senator as a means to block action by the EPA to set emission targets. The benefit of the move is that it allows for an expedited process in the U.S. Senate, limits debate on the issue, and restricts the amendment process.

But the problem for the GOP in using this strategy is there may not be enough senators to support this motion. The way the procedure works is the disapproval motion is referred to the committee of jurisdiction (Environment and Public Works Committee). The process ensures that if the EPW committee does not report the resolution within 20 calendar days, the resolution can be dislodged if 30 Senators sign a petition to have it discharged from the committee. If this is done, the resolution is brought to the Senate floor for consideration and is not subject to a cloture vote to proceed. Earlier headcounts of supporters of climate change legislation (currently at 42) indicate the resolution will likely fail. The likely vote on the resolution would be along party lines making it very difficult for the GOP to muster 51 votes (11 Democrats would be needed) to pass the measure. More to come…


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