Last week I reported, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell fails to get majority in vote to deny climate science and block EPA Clean Air rules. The media mavens at the Politico took the story a little further in today’s Morning Energy.
UPDATE: Politico has now posted a full story, “Did Senate GOP doom EPA riders?” which I’ll excerpt at the end.
Since progressives have so little to celebrate these days on the climate front, here’s the ME story:
McCONNELL MISCUE? Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell pushed Reid for a vote on his amendment to eliminate EPA’s greenhouse gas permitting program. Reid put the amendment up for a vote Wednesday, along with three amendments from centrist Democrats that would have delayed or diminished the program. None passed, with three from centrist Democrats scoring only a handful of votes while the McConnell’s option split the Senate evenly at 50–50.
Democrats claim that McConnell’s insistence on the failed floor vote handed Obama and Reid exactly the ammunition they needed to prevent similar language from making its way into the final spending deal. ‘We made it clear the Senate had spoken,’ a senior Senate Democratic aide told reporters after the deal was brokered Friday. A separate Senate Democratic aide had a less diplomatic take on the minority leader’s push for the unsuccessful votes: ‘McConnell screwed the pooch on this one.’
Reid should treat the matter as settled.
Here is the opening of the full story:
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell may have played a starring role in ensuring a last-minute spending deal didn’t include controversial environmental riders.
By insisting on a Senate floor vote on stand-alone legislation to handcuff the EPA’s climate change policies, the Kentucky Republican handed President Barack Obama and Majority Leader Harry Reid exactly the ammunition they needed to prevent similar language from making its way into the final spending deal that emerged late Friday to avert a government shutdown.
McConnell set the wheels in motion for his vote long ago. But when it came to a head on the floor last Wednesday afternoon, Reid had a chance to use the roll call’s 50–50 outcome during a tense series of Oval Office negotiations to remind House Speaker John Bohener that Senate support didn’t exist to turn the anti-EPA language into a reality.
“We made it clear the Senate had spoken,” a senior Senate Democratic aide told reporters in the Capitol on Friday night, just minutes after Obama, Reid and Boehner outlined the broad contours of their late-night budget deal that excluded any restrictions on the EPA.
Reconstructing last week’s high-stakes spending talks suggests some deft maneuvering by Senate Democratic leaders to get the EPA issue off the table, thereby satisfying a make-or-break demand of environmentalists who have been stung by other big losses over the last two years.