November 4th, 2009
05:13 PM ET
12 years ago

GOP continues boycott of committee debate on climate bill

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Republicans on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, chaired by Sen. Boxer, are boycotting hearings on a climate change bill."]
Washington (CNN) - A Republican boycott of Senate committee debate on a major climate change bill continued for a second day Wednesday, frustrating majority Democrats who have threatened to move ahead despite the lack of a GOP presence.

Only one of the seven Republicans on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee showed up Wednesday when the panel started its meeting on the bill authored by Democratic Sens. Barbara Boxer of California and John Kerry of Massachusetts.

Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma, the panel's ranking Republican and an outspoken opponent of climate change legislation, left the meeting after delivering a brief statement. Republicans also stayed away from Tuesday's opening session after one GOP senator - George Voinovich of Ohio - made an opening statement.

Committee rules require at least two minority party members to be present to reach a working quorum. However, an exception could allow the committee to proceed on the bill without any Republicans, according to committee staff members.

Boxer, who chairs the committee, said Tuesday she hoped the Republicans would join the debate, but that the panel eventually would act on the bill without them as permitted under Senate rules.

Matt Dempsey, a spokesman for the committee's Republicans, told CNN that applying the exception would be a "nuclear option" by Democrats that would worsen the panel's already strained political climate.

On Wednesday, Inhofe issued a similar warning, telling Boxer that acting without the participation of Republicans would be "unwise."

"Choosing to set aside the committee's long-standing rules would jeopardize our ability to work together on other issues," he said.

He repeated the demand of Republicans for the Environmental Protection Agency to conduct a full analysis of the bill's effects on the U.S. economy before the committee begins amending the measure. Such an analysis would take several weeks, and Democrats consider the Republican demand a stall tactic.

Boxer noted Tuesday the panel has held dozens of hearings on the issue and compiled more than 300,000 pages of analysis, and that she had taken the unprecedented step of scheduling a session with EPA experts to answer any questions by committee members. However, the Republicans skipped the EPA briefing on Tuesday afternoon.

Boxer also said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, has promised the full EPA analysis sought by Republicans on the climate change bill that eventually comes before the entire Senate.

She accused the panel's Republicans of being wrong in their insistence that the EPA analysis of the bill was insufficient.

"You can't compromise when somebody says something that's just flat-out wrong," Boxer said Tuesday.

The committee's 12-member Democratic majority ensures enough support to send the bill to the full Senate without any Republican support.

Although the House has already passed its version of the bill, Senate approval is considered a much tougher challenge for Democratic proponents of the "cap-and-trade" legislation, which would contribute to reshaping the U.S. energy system.

Republicans say the Democratic climate change bill would harm the U.S. economy by raising energy costs and giving other nations a competitive advantage.

Democrats say reducing greenhouse gas emissions and the nation's dependence on fossil fuels such as oil and coal is necessary and strategic as the world moves toward clean and renewable energy sources.

The Senate bill would set a cap on greenhouse gas emissions and create a system of tradable pollution credits to ease the economic impact on polluters.

Filed under: Energy • Senate
soundoff (97 Responses)
  1. Beverly in NC

    This is exactly why we need to get rid of every Republican up for re-election next November. None of them are there to serve the people who elected them. None of them have done one single positive thing this entire Congressional session. They have slowed down all pieces of legislation designed to help the American people. They have even called for America to fail to meet their political game playing.

    Republicans have betrayed us and are traitors to the betterment and restoration of the lives of the American people. They are leaderless and have no solutions and are run by a small group of lunatics. They have no credibility and are doing nothing so let's send them home and get some intelligent, hard-working people in office who will take their oath if office seriously and work for the People!

    November 4, 2009 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  2. dan smith

    Just on more way for liberals to tax those of us that actually work and pay taxes. Hey big spender stop taking my money-make your own and use it for your socialist ideals.

    November 4, 2009 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  3. File under "Sarcasm"

    Better watch out , CNN. Twice in your story you referred to Senator Boxer as "Boxer" without her title of Senator and we all know how she hates the disrespect that implies. Didn't some poor General get transferred to a base above the Arctic Circle for that kind of offense.

    November 4, 2009 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  4. James

    How can the GOP not accept science and still be considered a credible party? Intelligent design vs. evolution; global warming is not happening and will not harm future generations.

    Republicans: follow the money at all costs... even our world as we know it. What kind of mindset is this? History will show the U.S. as the slow adopter in carbon emissions reduction. It will be seen as ignorance and an embrassment to future generations.

    November 4, 2009 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  5. Paul

    Typical Republican quitters. Let's move on without them.

    November 4, 2009 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  6. dan smith

    Look out if the liberals have their way,soon you'll have to pay a tax every time you breathe or pass gas.

    November 4, 2009 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  7. Nick

    What would happen if Democrats did this during the Bush years? They would have been demonized, for certain. This is unacceptable and undemocratic behavior.

    November 4, 2009 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  8. RSB

    Move ahead! And while you're at it do the same with health care. They've been given the chance and apparently think it's best to do nothing for the people that voted them in to office. I know it's hard for them to keep up but the rest of us ARE ready for change.

    November 4, 2009 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  9. Ron

    The Party of No has spoken again. All they can do, or ever do these days, is say NO. They have made it clear they want the USA to fail in every way (going so far as to be against the Olympics) so they can blame Obama. Plain and simple.

    November 4, 2009 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  10. dan smith

    Tax and spend,tax and spend, I'm a liberal that's all I know how to do is tax and spend.

    November 4, 2009 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  11. Wise Latina

    Boxer looks really miffed. She INSISTS on being called "SENATOR" Boxer, but even the congressional panel itself can only muster a "SEN. BOXER". Yep, she is besides herself. Petty little narcissist.

    November 4, 2009 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  12. RSB

    Oh, I forgot. If they don't show up then we shouldn't have to pay them.

    November 4, 2009 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  13. Gordon Shumway

    Perhaps it wasn't the subject of the meeting that disturbed them so much and rather the attitude and lack of demeanor of the chairperson or madam, your choice..........

    November 4, 2009 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  14. ab from MN

    Voinovich isn't seeking reelection so him being there is worthless. Much like the entire GOP. How can one party continue to live in the past and have a strategy of tear down your opponent rather then building themselves up? All they want is less government so they can steal more money from the middle class of this nation. Why care about the enviornment when you're making billions off of oil? The GOP needs to go away forever!!!!

    November 4, 2009 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  15. Perspective

    What are we paying them for; to skip out on their jobs? It is an insult to the American taxpayers and decent people who are actually looking for work.

    Regardless party, these senators were voted into office to attend these meetings, debate responsibly, and work towards compromise. Please do your jobs.

    November 4, 2009 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  16. vette gal

    We, as taxpayers, pay their salaries. We should demand they show up for work by e-mailing and calling every one of them that boycotted. We don't pay them to act like spoiled children. We elected adults and we expect them to act like adults. I am so disgusted at this action it's hard to put into words.

    November 4, 2009 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  17. Russ in Benton

    These senators alone put out enough hot air to cause climate change.

    November 4, 2009 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  18. victim of democrat hypocrisy

    The democrats have to learn they can't just muscle through anything they want. If they want nothing accomplished in D.C., just keep it up.

    The problem with "cap & trade" isn't the "cap" but the "trade". That allows gross polluters like Algore to buy credits so he can keep on polluting. How is that a solution?

    Can't wait until 2010 when we kick Boxer to the curb!

    November 4, 2009 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  19. Frank

    Nothing is obvious to the uninformed, even the science behind global warming. Hint: God is not involved, human beings are. As for boycotting hearings about an issue which could prove fatal to the human race, this is not Congressional business as usual but rather Dick Armey politics bringing out the worst partisan behavior on the part of those who have a right to expect to be represented in respectful debate. In short, the Republican committee members are denying their constituents even a modicum of presence on a subject of potentially extreme importance. What a sad commentary on those Senators who refuse to show up.

    November 4, 2009 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  20. Mark,B'ham,Al.

    All you liberals who want cap and trade, you can pay my bills since I won't be able too because of the taxes, yes taxes imposed on the middle clas from cap and trade. If you believe the liberal left does not want to control your life even more than the religious right, you are a fool! They want power! Look who the Obama Czars heros are: Mao, Chevez of Argentina, Fidel and his revolutionary buddy Che. All people with Power and Permanent Control. Obama did say look who I have around me!

    November 4, 2009 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  21. do your work cmte

    Can you imagine how the GOPs would howl if Dems pulled this nonsense?

    Dems, if they pull this tomorrow, go ahead without these crybaby losers

    November 4, 2009 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  22. GOP = "I hope he fails"

    Obstruct, stall, delay.

    Anybody who cares to pay any attention and to be honest about things will realize that it has been the same stategy for the Rethugs ever since the last election.

    I like the statement by the spokesman who was....converned....that the committees may suffer from "strained relations" if the Democrats proceed with the peoples business. Jeepers I'd hate to do anything that might offend the people who just WALKED OUT!! How can say this stuff without cracking up?

    November 4, 2009 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  23. The Essential Republican

    Our GOP representatives are only doing their job, dad gummit! They have been well paid by the oil industry to NOT show up for these hearings.

    November 4, 2009 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  24. Anonymous

    The GOP is simply ignorant, and it would be better for everyone if they stayed at the booby bar while Democrats work on a climate bill. The GOP are more interested in keeping profits up instead of working for the changes that will help everyone in the long run. I'm not sure what the republicans are thinking, but doing nothing isn't what they were elected to do. Whining babies.

    November 4, 2009 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  25. danthesensibleman

    I take craps more useful than a republican working on a climate change bill.

    November 4, 2009 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
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