GOP Still Blocking Climate Bill

Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) says she will move forward on climate legislation tomorrow, with or without Republicans, who have pledged to boycott the markup.

Republican leaders sent a letter to Boxer on Monday afternoon saying they want more  analysis before participating in a markup. George Voinovich (R-Ohio), a member of Boxer’s Environment and Public Works committee, made the initial request. He’s since been joined by a number of GOP ranking members of key committees: Lisa Murkowski (Energy and Natural Resources), Saxby Chambliss of Georgia (Agriculture), Chuck Grassley (Finance), James Inhofe (Environment and Public Works) and Kay Bailey Hutchison (Commerce, Science and Transportation).

The big problem with the senators’ claim is that there’s already plenty of analysis available about the climate bill. The proposal largely mirrors the Waxman-Markey legislation that passed the House in June, which has been scrutinized by the EPA, the Congressional Budget Office, and the Energy Information Administration. The Environmental Protection Agency released a preliminary study of the Senate bill, along with the chairman’s mark, on Friday, Oct. 23. And if that wasn’t enough, Boxer’s committee held nine different panels with 54 expert witnesses last week. For months, Voinovich has been asking for new studies from the EPA, presumably ones that produce doom and gloom predictions that the bill will devastate the American economy. But the raft of studies completed so far show just the opposite.

Although the GOP is trying to hide behind relative moderates like Voinovich—who at least admits that climate change is a problem—in its latest gambit, they’re really aligning with the denialists like Inhofe. The goal is to mire the process in bitter partisan fights until the climate bill stalls indefinitely in the Senate.

EPW committee rules require that at least two Republicans be present to begin markup. In a statement on Monday, Boxer urged Inhofe to call the Republicans back to work and announced that she plans to proceed on Tuesday whether or not her GOP colleagues show up. The markup is slated to begin at 9 a.m. What will happen is anybody’s guess.