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.