November 13, 2006
THE practical effects of the Democrats' takeover of Congress started being felt last week in Washington, D.C.
Some Democrats talked of revisiting the Bush administration's use of pre-war Iraq intelligence. Others hinted at investigating favorite bugaboos — Halliburton and oil-company profits. Hurricane Katrina may get another going-over.
Nowhere will the power shift be more dramatic than on the Senate's Environment and Public Works Committee, chaired nearly four years by Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Tulsa. When the new Senate convenes, Inhofe will be replaced by California Sen. Barbara Boxer.
Boxer is the environmental fringe's dream come true, an ardent liberal who said last week she wants to initiate major policy shifts on global warming, air quality and toxic waste cleanup.
In our view, Inhofe provided practical and reasonable leadership in the environmental debate. He blocked legislation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, refusing to accept as settled science a view that human activity is the major cause of global warming.
His hard work kept bad legislation from harming U.S. industries and businesses that employ millions of Americans. This in turn helped keep the U.S. economy from being disadvantaged with respect to the growing (and polluting) economies of China and India. Both are key reasons the Senate voted 95-0 against the kinds of provisions contained in the Kyoto global warming treaty nine years ago.
Come January, Inhofe and other Republicans won't be able to stop bad policy in committee, because they'll be outnumbered. Yet Senate rules requiring 60 votes to proceed on most legislation — used by Democrats to block GOP policies when they were in the minority — will be available for minority Republicans, and they shouldn't be bashful about using them.
We're certain Inhofe's leadership hasn't been as appreciated as it will be when he hands his gavel to Sen. Boxer.
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