According to the Politico, “Barbara Boxer plans to bypass Republicans on climate vote.” Committee Republicans have refused to a markup of the Kerry-Boxer (S.1733) global warming bill because EPA has not conducted a full analysis of the legislation. Committee rules prevent Boxer (D-CA), who chairs the committee, from moving forward with a markup if at least two minority Senators are present. Committee precedent also prevents her from reporting a bill out off committee.
At 8:30 this morning, the EPW website announced the committee would indeed meet this morning, which indicated Boxer may be ready to ignore decades of committee precedent and report out the Kerry-Boxer bill. The procedural gambit gets complicated though, because committee rules prevent amendments from being considered without minority participation. According to E&E News PM (subs. req’d.), Senator Whitehouse (D-RI) acknowledged this difficulty:
Let me put it this way, I don’t know a way to take up an amendment without two Republicans present. That’s been the problem.”
That means that Democrats on the committee who expressed serious concerns over the 925-page chairman’s mark would not have an opportunity to debate and vote on their amendments. During last week’s hearings, Senator Baucus (D-MT) expressed his concerns, saying:
I have some concerns about the overall direction of the bill before us today, and whether it will lead us closer to or further away from passing climate change legislation. For example, I have serious reservations with the depth of the mid-term reduction target in the bill and the lack of preemption of the Clean Air Act’s authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.”
Baucus submitted 11 amendments to the chairman’s mark, including six of which dealt with the bill’s stringency or the role of the EPA. Despite such concerns, Senator Boxer did indeed move forward, reporting the bill out of committee. None of the Republicans were present, and Baucus was the only one to vote against the bill.
Boxer’s actions appear to have violated decades of precedent and despite the “success” of reporting a bill out of committee, the path forward seems very uncertain.