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E&E News: Senate Dems push back vote on EPA amendments again
March 17, 2011

Posted by Matt Dempsey Matt_Dempsey@epw.senate.gov

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E&E News 

Senate Dems push back vote on EPA amendments again

(03/17/2011)

Jean Chemnick, E&E reporter

Link to Article 

Efforts to pre-empt U.S. EPA's authorities to regulate greenhouse gas emissions were always expected to be an easier sell in the Republican-controlled House than in the Democratic Senate, but they are causing plenty of havoc in the upper chamber too.

Senate Democratic leaders have been delaying a vote since Tuesday on a measure that would pre-empt EPA's climate change rules, but they have now acknowledged that it is unlikely to receive a vote until after next week's recess.

"We don't have any comment about why this is being moved back," said Adam Jentleson, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).

But Republicans said the amendment -- offered by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and authored by Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) -- was within striking distance of the 60 votes needed to pass controversial legislation in the Senate and that had spooked the Democratic leadership.

"I think that it's clear that there is growing bipartisan support for this," said Inhofe spokesman Matt Dempsey. "We're getting closer to 60 all the time."

Dempsey said Inhofe would launch a "full-court blitz" of media appearances in support of the amendment during the recess.

But even if the McConnell amendment does not draw the needed votes to pass the Senate -- which it seems unlikely to do -- the vote could embarrass Democrats because many of their moderates will feel pressure to cross party lines to vote for the amendment to show their support for home-state smokestack industries that would be affected by the EPA rules.

An additional source of embarrassment for Democrats comes from a member of their own caucus. Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) is pushing for a vote on his bill to prevent EPA from implementing its stationary source rules for carbon dioxide for two years. While Republicans say the Rockefeller amendment could provide Democrats from coal, oil and manufacturing states with the political cover they need to skirt the McConnell-Inhofe amendment, the Rockefeller amendment would also mean a second recorded vote on EPA pre-emption -- a situation Democrats may be seeking to avoid by delaying amendment votes until later in the month.

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