Colorado Senators Split “Cap and Trade” Vote

Colorado Sens. Mark Udall and Michael Bennet went in different directions yesterday on a procedural vote related to efforts to enact a “cap and trade” system for reducing carbon emissions. In short, the vote yesterday (a lopsided 67-31 against) was to allow the plan to be enacted on a ‘fast track,’ without the usual Senate requirement of sixty votes to end debate and move forward.

Now before too much is read into this vote about Bennet’s future intentions regarding “cap and trade,” the New York Times reports:

Don’t bury cap-and-trade legislation just yet.

That was the message from several moderate Senate Democrats yesterday who a day earlier had joined with Republicans in a 67-31 Senate vote against fast-tracking a climate change bill so that it did not have to face a filibuster.

“It was a little bit of a false issue,” explained Arkansas Sen. Mark Pryor, one of the 26 Democrats who voted against the option of including climate change in a budget reconciliation bill. “It really didn’t amount to anything because I don’t think it was going to happen anyway.”

…”It’s a bad mistake to try to cut out the Republicans and cut off debate and limit amendments on such an important bill, and I say that as a supporter of cap and trade,” argued Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine).

Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) said Senate sponsors of climate legislation erred in advocating for the fast-track option. “As someone who believes we need to get to a truly 21st century energy policy and recognizes the challenge of global warming, I think that you’re going to need — that you aren’t going to be able to build the consensus that you need if you try to do reconciliation,” Warner said. “You’re going to get people opposing based on process, rather than policy. And I think that it may make the challenge a little bit harder, but I think we’ll get there.”

…Environmentalists downplayed the significance of the debate over climate change and reconciliation, saying it would have little effect when the issue returns to the spotlight later this year. “That’s all inside baseball and from our perspective has nothing to do with gathering the support we’re going to need, and we’ll confident we’ll get, to pass a strong climate bill this year,” said Gene Karpinski, president of the League of Conservation Voters.

We’re interested, like everyone else, in hearing more about Bennet’s position on this issue, and we expect that during the full and inclusive debate such an important plan deserves (which is why we would have voted the same way he did, no disrespect to Udall), we’ll get that opportunity. Actually, Bennet will be out on the climate-conscious Western Slope this weekend for a series of town halls–we don’t even have to wait that long.

51 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. sxp151 says:

    It’s about blocking legislation you don’t like using parliamentary maneuvers instead of actually convincing your colleagues that you’re right. This line just strikes me as quaint, given how the filibuster has actually been used.

    we expect that during the full and inclusive debate such an important plan deserves (which is why we would have voted the same way he did, no disrespect to Udall)

    And Democrats who think they’re leaving the door open to bipartisanship by rolling over for Republicans on this are hopelessly naive. How many Republicans voted for the budget? I count zero.

    How many Republicans voted for anything this year without being personally feted by every important Democrat three times over? And even then, the number’s small.

    For the parents around here, at what point do you stop negotiating with and cajoling your five-year-old and just say, “You’re not eating candy for dinner because that’s just the way it is”?

    At what point do Democrats say, “Look Republicans, you’re not grown-ups, so you don’t get to make the rules”?

    • DavidThi808DavidThi808 says:

      and that requires playing by the rules, even if it makes it harder to accomplish what we believe is necessary. Cap & trade is important, but so is having a functioning democracy.

      • wade norris says:

        http://www.praer.org/2009/03/c

        While i appreciate the nuances of democracy, Bush and many other presidents have used reconciliation to pass important legislation.

        The fact is that the Coal / Energy industry is going to shell out big bucks to stop anything meaningful from happening and will support the blue dogs on this.

        The sad thing is, people are literally going to become nation-less in the next decade because of activities we industrialized nations engaged in over 50 years ago, not to mention what we continue to do today.

        This is an emergency. Period.

        Ask the islanders.

        • redstateblues says:

          Now that Michael Bennet has put out his Q1 fundraising numbers, are you in agreement with Ray Springfield that there will most likely not be a primary run by anyone–including Andrew Romanoff?

          • wade norris says:

            but from my sources, no one has heard anything one way or another. Until we do, we don’t know.

            From conversations i have had, i consider Andrew to be the people’s choice.

            However, a primary is my ultimate goal, as we should be demanding primaries of the dems who are actually blocking the President’s agenda of CHANGE.

          • redstateblues says:

            You can either shoot me a facebook message, or post something in the open thread. I only asked you here because it was the first time I’d seen you post since the story broke.

        • indipol says:

          Wade, what is the practical difference to the climate (and by extension to the kids pictured above) of a 6-month or even 12-month delay in U.S. climate regulations?  Seriously.  The practical difference is absolutely nothing.  Cap-and-trade is starting in 2012 or 2013 at this point.  By 2020, the result of U.S. cap-and-trade will be almost unmeasurable in terms of atmospheric CO2e ppm.  I don’t disagree that there are serious issues to address, but muddling the issue with appeals to emotion that aren’t grounded in achievable reality helps nobody.

          • sierrafan says:

            I think it’s nice to see that Mikey is standing up to the party and saying let’s see if this climate change is real. I cannot stand the diehard Dems who say Global Warming is a fact. In essence no one can say for sure.

            And yes I agree Bennet is the prefect candidate. I like that he’s anti-union (which is all run by the mob) and that he’s saying hold on we need more time to look at the Global Warming issue before we start sacrificing our economy in order to go down an unknown path.

          • wade norris says:

            and as far as procedure goes, you are right about the cap and trade.

            However, my belief is that if we had more emotional appeals then the debate would change from “how much clean coal?” to

            “how fast can we get to zero emissions?”

            I hope my belief is not in vain.

          • ardy39 says:

            We need to be working on BOTH mitigation and adaptation. The longer we wait on the mitigation part the more difficult it will become to both adapt and mitigate.

            As for the quality of the science (as suggested by others), we make a lot of economic decisions with much more uncertainty in the projections. It is very difficult to get more than four scientists to reach consensus on anything but the most mundane of observations. That there are thousands of practicing climate scientists saying very similar things should be alarming.

            It’s irresponsible for policy makers to attempt to disguise cowardice to make tough decisions by claiming there is a “need for more research.” We have to make some decisions now given the information we have available. Recognizing that, we may need to modify policies and practice in the future as more information becomes available.

            This is no different than what we do regarding every other important and complex decision we make as individuals and communities.

      • BlueCat says:

        It’s not as if there has always been a 60 vote minimum on pretty much every damn thing and the extreme overuse of  the mere threat of filibuster is very recent.  

        No matter how you feel about this we, could get rid of the 60 vote requirement tomorrow and still have a fully functioning democracy. The people of small states already have an advantage, sometimes a huge advantage as with a state like North Dakota, in being represented by two senators, the same as the most populous states.  

        This is about rules, not about democracy or the democratic process. Concensus and bipartisanship are nice but elections have consequences and the Republican bleating   about the process while making quite plain they have no intention of doing anything but obstruct has no credibility. Ditto for the shrinking handful of ultra blue dog Dems.

        Am not criticizing anyone’s vote on this particular and both Bennet and Udall are far from the most conservative of the ConservaDems. Just saying there’s nothing undemocratic about finding ways around the 60 vote requirement, especially when the solid majority of Americans want what our President promised during his campaign.  

        • redstateblues says:

          but it starts to make the Dems seem like the Republicans used to be. People got sick and tired of their way of Governing–not just their stances on the issues–and so they went back to the Democratic brand. I worked my ass off to get the Democrats in there, and I don’t want them to turn into an ideologically different, but methodologically similar version of the GOP.

          What if they tried to do this with EFCA? It would lend even more credibility to the people who say it’s trying to pull a fast one on everybody.

          Besides, if the Democrats have anyone to blame for this type of culture in the Senate, it’s Majority Leader Reid. He’s the one who brought the 60 votes for everything philosophy in.

          And I don’t think that people voted for Obama because they want cap and trade. This is something that needs to be handled delicately, because there are lots of people with lots of money who could use it as a political weapon against Obama in 2012. That won’t happen if the public supports it through a rational discussion, with bipartisan support in the Senate.

          • sxp151 says:

            As soon as you start even talking about it, you’re quickly met with “Ah, they’re all the same, just playing games instead of dealing with stuff.”

            People were eventually unhappy with Republicans because they did stupid and wrong things. But before that, they liked Republicans a lot for being straightforward and doing whatever they could to get their agenda passed. Even people who didn’t agree with the agenda respected their ability to get things done.

            • redstateblues says:

              Iraq is the prime example. The Republicans were so stubborn on Iraq that they shut down all debate and attempts to either put timetables on (which Bush eventually did by agreeing to the SOFA) or or limit funding. The Democrats continued to press the issue, and they were rewarded in 2006 by being put back in power.

              People want effective government that includes bipartisan solutions–not “We do what we want, when we want, and you don’t get a say.”

              I stand by my statement that if they take that path, they will be punished by the voters.

              • BlueCat says:

                that most Americans know next to nothing about politics, especially about process. Stop people on the street and ask what they thought of the Republicans using budget reconciliation to pass tax cuts and tell me how many you have to ask before you get ONE who has ANY idea what you are talking about.  

                Americans don’t like a nasty tone.  As far as the details, few know or care. Right now The majority want Obama’s policies to pass,  trust the Dems more on economic policy and don’t care about procedure.  

                • indipol says:

                  maybe even more so.  nobody wants to know how the sausage is made.  it makes spin, messaging and framing so important, because the actors in the system know that very few in the public have any idea what is bullshit, what is likely, what is possible, and what is not.

              • sxp151 says:

                Which means voters really didn’t give a damn about the process, just the results (which eventually turned to crap, though they looked good superficially for a while). Which is my point.

      • sxp151 says:

        The Senate sets its own rules, and those change from time to time. Passing this under reconciliation would be a parliamentary trick just as legitimate as filibustering.

        I fail to see how getting legislation passed with a majority of both houses and the President’s support eliminates “a functioning democracy.”

        Seriously, I don’t see your point. If some Republican Senators’ feelings are hurt by this (and that’s really what we’re debating), how is that a death blow to democracy?

        • DavidThi808DavidThi808 says:

          I agree that we could change the rule tomorrow and it would still be democratic. What I dislike is end-runs around the rules, that removes respect for the rule of law.

          • indipol says:

            there’s not really a run around any rules here.  The rules are what they are, and were designed to allow for this.  The Senate parliamentary rules are byzantine and the small handful of senators that have a deep, deep understanding of them have used them to great advantage (Reid and Byrd being two that come to mind, I also once saw Wyden pull a rule out of his ass in a Commerce hearing that McCain was chairing and McCain flew into an apoplectic rage).

            My point remains that from a practical politics and policy standpoint, you want ownership of both sides on this issue and if you don’t get it, you’re doing great harm to the long term prospects of the legislation.  What the left wants here is climate-meaningful climate policy.  What the left will get if they shove it down the right’s throat is a full dismantling of the policy in 8 years when the R’s win back control of government.  This issue is being set up as politically polarized as abortion, but it doesn’t have to be that way.  

            • redstateblues says:

              Some people on the left don’t care though. They’re fine with polarization, just as long as they get instant gratification.

              And as far as Senators who knew the way to use the rules to their advantage, Lyndon Johnson was amazing at that. That was how he earned the title “Master of the Senate”.

              • sxp151 says:

                The phrase “fast-track” is probably a little misleading in that sense. I don’t particularly care WHEN a decent climate change bill gets passed, I just don’t want it to be filibustered forever.

                The alternatives are not a bill passed tomorrow, or a bill passed next year. They are a bill passed in the next year, or nothing passed until Jesus Himself descends from on high to tell Republicans to fucking do something. (And even then Jim Inhofe will find a reason to doubt.)

            • DavidThi808DavidThi808 says:

              I agree that we should also shoot for concensus here. However, the political sphere is so toxic right now, that may not be possible.

              • BlueCat says:

                What we need to accomplish here is more important than the ideal of co-ownership or bipartisanship.  I say, use every tool available to get it done, especially since Rs have made clear they will obstruct absolutely anything and everything just because.  

  2. indipol says:

    i served a senate Dem as a senior enviro staffer and I’m a big proponent of climate legislation, and my entire professional life is wrapped up in this issue.  From the start I thought fast-tracking this was a terrible idea.  If we actually do anything climate-meaningful (that’s a big ‘if’ and I don’t think it will happen), it’s going to be as far-reaching as anything we’ve done since the New Deal.  We can’t slink this through on a f’ing “midnight run” budget resolution.  Everybody needs to own this now, because we’re still going to be fighting about it in 20 years.  The Dems should not be shoving this down the throats of the R’s, they should be finding ways to get the 5-10 moderate R’s who will play to sign on.  If that means it gets watered down now, fine.  Get something going and then ramp it up in 5 years when Greenland starts shooting iceberg missiles into the North Atlantic.

  3. Outrider says:

    Udall did what he was expected to do and there’s no downside.  He’s safe for six years and the tactic wasn’t expected to be successful.

    Bennett did what he needed to do (and cast the right vote IMO.)  These kinds of issues need to be debated and decided inclusively in order to assure long term buy in, even if it means accepting something less than optimum at least temporarily.

    Too many amateurs expect every battle to be the war.  Pros pick and choose their battles with an eye toward long term success, not instant gratification.

  4. The realistThe realist says:

    “Actually, Bennet will be out on the climate-conscious Western Slope this weekend for a series of town halls–we don’t even have to wait that long.”

    Wrong.  For the second time Bennet has cancelled his I-70 “tour,” this time due to snow in the forecast and “possible” closures of I-70.  Breaking news: It snows in the mountains.  It snows along the I-70 corridor.  Some times it snows in the high country 9, 10, 11, even 12 months a year.  I suggest that Bennet and his staff figure out how to travel in the mountains even when snow is in the forecast.  A whole lot of mountain dwellers, skiers, and through-travelers know how to work around snowstorms and temporary highway closures.  The high country would like to see both Colorado Senators from time to time.  

    • indipol says:

      who wants to sit in a car for 8 hours just to get to Vail?  probably all of us have been there.  i’d hope a busy Senator can find better ways to spend his time for the people

      • The realistThe realist says:

        First of all I’m guessing thousands of skiers and boarders made it into the mountains from the Front Range this morning.  And for the record, there is no chain law right now at the tunnel or over Vail Pass.  Also, if Bennet doesn’t continue to make way-above-average efforts to connect with people (i.e. voters) he will be at significant risk at election time.  ”The people” want him to connect with them – there are no “better ways” for him to spend his time.  

      • redstateblues says:

        Bennet needs as much face time with voters as possible–both to do his job correctly, and to properly campaign for re-election.

        To the vast majority of Coloradans he’s still “Who’s that guy”.

        That being said, if it did in fact snow as much as they thought it was going to, would it have drawn the kind of crowd that would make the trip worthwhile? Would people still brave the elements to come meet him?

        And did he just not do anything today, or did he decide to spend time with voters in a different part of the state?

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