Senate Moving on Energy without GOP


"Republican senators have boycotted the committee's hearings on the bill all week"

Democrats on a key Senate committee bypassed a Republican boycott and this morning approved a sweeping plan to limit greenhouse gas emissions, a move meant to reassure other nations as the world prepares for global warming treaty hearings next month, but which figures to inflame partisan tensions in the Capitol.

The vote came after the Democrats, led by Barbara Boxer (CA), invoked a procedural rule to vote even though no Republicans had showed for the meeting. Republican senators have boycotted the committee's hearings on the bill all week, calling for a more detailed government analysis of costs before any vote.

In a statement, Boxer called the vote "in full accordance" with Senate rules. She blasted the GOP tactics and stressed the urgency of fighting global warming.

"We are pleased that, despite the Republican boycott, we have been able to move the bill," she said.

It's unclear how the vote will affect the climate bill, which proponents say would spur "clean energy" job-growth in sectors such as wind and solar power, but which critics say would impose huge new energy costs on consumers.

Several Senate Democrats have expressed reservations about the bill, particularly its potential to raise costs for farmers and coal consumers. A handful of moderate Republicans, though, have suggested they could back the measure if properly crafted (e.g., to include new incentives for offshore drilling and nuclear power).

A bipartisan group of senators signaled this week that they are pursuing a compromise bill apart from the bill Boxer's committee approved today.

A trio of senators—Democrat John Kerry (MA), Republican Lindsey Graham (SC) and Independent Joe Lieberman (CT)—announced they are drafting a climate bill, in consultation with the White House and Senate leaders, in hopes of attracting wide bipartisan support.

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