Does EPA Vote Show Climate Bill Is Doomed?

A vote to strip EPA power fails, but just barely

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The Senate voted down, by 53 to 47, a GOP proposal to strip the Environmental Protection Agency of its ability to block carbon emissions. Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska presented the proposal and was joined by six Democrats. The vote on Thursday reveals not just how Republicans and Democrats are approaching energy and climate-change politics, but how those politics will translate into policy.

  • Proxy Fight for Climate Change Bill  The New York Times' Carl Hulse explains, "The fight was mainly symbolic because the prospects for the resolution were bleak even had the Senate passed it. It would have then required a majority vote in the House and the approval of President Obama, who has already threatened to veto it. But it provided a showcase for a Senate fight over global warming as well as an indicator of where lawmakers could be expected to come down on legislation aimed at carbon emissions. The near-even division among lawmakers showed that a 60-vote supermajority on climate change legislation remains elusive."
  • Shows Poor Prospects for Progress  The Washington Post's Juliet Elperin sighs, "the 47 to 53 vote showed that even in the wake of the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, Congress remains divided over how best to address climate change. The contentious debate, in which some lawmakers suggested federal regulation would strike a devastating blow to the economy, suggested the Senate is far from decided on whether to put a price on the industrial emissions that stem from everyday activities such as lighting a home or driving a car."
  • Why 6 Dems Voted With GOP   The New Republic's Brad Plumer writes, "The line from most of these folks is that they want Congress, rather than the EPA, to take the lead on global warming. Trouble is, many of them won't vote for a climate bill, either. There's a bonus irony in Bayh taking this stance, given that he's retiring from the Senate because he thinks the chamber is too dysfunctional to tackle the biggest issues facing the country."
  • Murkoski 'Won The War' Against Climate Bill  The Washington Post's Ezra Klein sighs, "though Murkowski might have lost the vote, it looks like she won the war: It's hard to see a strong climate bill getting 60 votes in a Senate where her bill got 47. And Reid had to make a lot of tough promises in order to beat the Murkowski bill back -- including giving a vote to Jay Rockefeller's bill to delay EPA action for two years."
  • Just the Beginning of This Debate?  The New Republic's Brad Plumer writes, "Harry Reid had to cut a few deals to prevent even more conservative Dems from voting for the resolution. One thing he promised was a vote (sometime down the road) on a bill by Jay Rockefeller that would delay all EPA regulations on industrial polluters for at least two years. That bill wouldn't be nearly as drastic as Murkowski's resolution ... But it does have a much better chance of passing. So this debate will be going on for quite some time."
  • ...Or Just a 'Stupid' Sideshow?  Grist's David Roberts scoffs, "What does the Murkowski vote 'mean'? It means the Senate is a dysfunctional institution and the climate movement in the U.S. is fatally weak. What does it mean for the climate and energy bill that's coming in July? Not much. That vote will be determined by the shape of the bill, the state of the economy, and the level of public anger on the oil spill. This was just a sideshow, a waste of everyone's time and energy."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.