June 6, 2008
Senatorial Storytime Stymies Climate Bill
Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) christened himself the "godfather of green," despite having one of the worst environmental records in the Senate. / Unfortunately, his hypocrisy -- and that of other Senators like Wayne Allard (Colo.) and James Inhofe (Okla.) -- runs deeper than merely misleading appellations.
First, the vast majority of Republicans joined Senate Democrats in voting 74-14 to begin debating the first serious measure to fight global warming to come to the Senate floor -- the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act. But then even though they'd just approved the motion to start debating the bill, the Republican leadership insisted on wasting another THIRTY full hours of the Senate's time discussing said motion before debate on the actual bill and amendments could begin.
(Meanwhile, the hyperconservative Family Research Council attacked the Senate for wasting any time at all on the "inconclusive" threat of global warming when what's "really heating up" is all those gays marrying.)
The shenanigans didn't end there. In the crudest of procedural tricks, on Wednesday the Republican leadership refused to dispense with the reading of the bill (as is Senate custom). In what was the equivalent of Chinese water torture for even seasoned C-SPAN aficionados like yours truly, they forced Senate clerks to spend more than nine full hours reading every single word of the 491-page bill. Out loud.
While we knew Senators beholden to Big Oil, Big Coal, and other special interests would stop at nothing to derail meaningful action on global warming, the full depth of their cynicism was revealed when Majority Leader Reid released a leaked GOP strategy memo his staff had intercepted. Among other tidbits, it said that their main focus would be "much more on making political points than in amending the bill…or affecting policy."
Unfortunately, the forces of darkness and everyone's favorite Senate stall tactic -- the filibuster -- colluded to kill the bill this morning on 48-36 vote (though several absent Senators would've voted yes and raised the total to a not-too-shabby 54). With public pressure and a new president, we're positive the sequel to this week's debate will be much better.
And speaking of sequels, Mitch McConnell might've wanted to watch the whole movie before he crowned himself Don of the Denier Mafia, since, you know, Don Corleone doesn't exactly make it all the way to the sequel….