The MSM headlines stated the obvious: Republicans move to delay climate bill progress. The headlines should read: "Icky Inhofe Whiny Express Meets Leader Boxer."
Last week, Inhofe cried boycott of the climate change legislation markup scheduled to commence tomorrow. We have seen this scene before when a GOP whines and the Democrats cave, leaving us with a legislative measure not desired. Inhofe did not see it coming, but Boxer stood tall, placing Democrats in a position for an actual negotiation with some give and take. Whatever the ultimate outcome, at least Boxer is fighting for us, people around the world and our environment.
The MSM tried to paint the walkout as the reasonable response of two moderate committee GOP (Voinovich and Alexander) who simply wanted an EPA cost analysis of the bill that Boxer was refusing to provide so they had no choice but to throw a tantrum. Inhofe figured that an official markup meeting requires a quorum of two GOP members, and therefore, if they all boycott, the markup meeting would be squashed.
Boxer stood tall instead, planning to commence the markup meetings even if all 7 GOP members of the Environment and Public Works Committee stuck to their threat to boycott. Boxer's response was based upon the fact that EPW could hold informal markup meetings that did not require a quorum because it is not an official meeting. Then, as with the health care bill, the other committees with jurisdiction could do the same, informally merge their versions into a new bill with a new number and use Rule XIV to move it to the floor.
Given that Boxer did not back down, Inhofe had to devise a new move because he realized that Boxer could proceed without them as stated in a letter today sent to Boxer from all 6 ranking GOP members (Inhofe, Murkowski, Chambliss, Grassley, Lugar, and Hutchison): "We understand that there may be an effort to report S. 1733 from the EPW Committee ...without sufficient opportunity to address the bipartisan concerns raised over the course of legislative hearings on the measure." The 6 members supported the Inhofe request for additional EPA analysis.
The political negotiations were on ...and Boxer responded with addressing some of the GOP concerns by commencing the markup meeting on schedule but extending the deadline for amendments and inviting an EPA official to answer any remaining questions that the GOP members have on the bill.
Boxer was holding some good cards because the GOP demand for additional EPA analysis is just a bogus claim to delay markup by more than a month. The EPA already did an analysis (pdf file) that showed the House and Senate bills have "roughly the same price tag." (Not to mention EPA analysis of Waxman/Markey bill.)
These 7 GOP have not stated whether they would vote for the bill ultimately, but Boxer spoke with Voinovich and Alexander, the so-called "moderates," several months ago, and both were "unwilling to work with her on the bill" yet Voinovich keeps lying about how he is "willing to work with the people on the other side of the aisle."
Meanwhile, the GOP tries to pass off GOP committee members Voinovich and Alexander as leaders of the obstruction that "Inhofe has been working to orchestrate." The ship for spinning these players as reasonable sailed a long time ago. A leaked GOP delay memo (pdf file) spelled out the plan of parliamentary delay because the "bottom line is that the GOP very much wants to have this fight, engage in it for a prolonged period, and then make it as difficult as possible to move off the bill."
As Sen. Kerry stated 2 years ago, "Delay is no longer just a former Republican leader; it has become a Republican way of life" as a political calculation to stop DC from remedying the shitload of messes that Obama inherited from Bush. Indeed, Inhofe has indicated that one of his goals is not just a delay of a month or more for a duplicated EPA study, but rather this would likely be the first of more delays to reach his target of the model of good legislative negotiation, the 2 years used for Bush's "Clear Skies" initiative. Thus, the current Inhofe delay tactic also needs to be evaluated in the context of the broader pattern of delaying climate change legislation by any means possible:
June 2008: GOP Mitch McConnell, the self-proclaimed "Godfather of Green," refused to allow Senate to debate the now dead Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act until after clerk took 9 hours to read the bill out loud.
January 2009: "First Shot Fired in the GOP Battle Against Action on Climate Change" is hold placed on Lisa Jackson , nominated to head EPA and also nominee to head the Council on Environmental Quality. These holds previewed the GOP "strategy to knock down" the Boxer climate change legislation released later this year.
May 2009: Rep. Barton seeks delay of Henry Waxman's climate change bill via "slew of amendments Republicans will offer." Barton and the GOP planned to "nitpick the Waxman bill into legislative oblivion" by introducing hundreds of amendments for "gumming up the markup process":
"This is not going to be one of gentlemanly, pro forma markups," said Texas Rep. Joe Barton, the top Republican on the committee. "We’re prepared for it to take weeks or months."
May 2009: After GOP committee members threatened to force the reading of 946-page Waxman-Markey climate change bill and 400 plus proposed amendments, the Democrats, in a unique preemptive counter of the "nefarious Republican stall tactics," arranged for "Speed Reading Clerk Reads Stalling Amendment To House Climate Change Legislation". GOP Rep. Barton was confidant that the 400 amendments would also slow the process because in 35 years a final vote was not called before all amendments were offered.
June 2009: "Boehner Tries to Stall Energy Vote" via House-Style Filibuster on Climate Bill by "reading the text of the 300-page Democratic amendment during his closing remarks on the bill" because GOP did not have the votes needed to defeat the measure.
July 2009: Climate-change-is-real-and-I've-seen-it McCain
placed holds on environmental nominees: Interior Secretary Salazar's department prevented from doing their work due to Sen. McCain "preventing the confirmation of his top land staff" by abusing privilege of senators to block appointments by Obama. McCain blocked nominees for the Bureau of Land Management administrator and an assistant Interior Secretary for land and minerals.
July 2009: Sen. Voinovich places hold on EPA deputy administrator nominee because not satisfied with EPA report on economic effects of climate change bill. EPA issued two reports thus far in 2009 that "showed the bill would have a relatively modest economic impact," but Voinovich not satisfied.
The GOP blocked a number of Obama's nominees, even when no linkage to environmental departments because the hold process itself delayed pending climate change legislation by forcing Reid to "choose between confirming essential government personnel" or advancing climate change legislation.
The sheer number of holds evidence the concerted plan to obstruct legislation because the party of NO does not have legitimate substantive proposals to address the deadly impacts of climate change: Here is "An Incomplete List of Senate Holds on Obama Administration Nominees."
As Sen. Boxer explained when GOP whined on the first day of the hearings on the Kerry-Boxer climate change bill, climate change will not wait while the GOP obstructs:
So, while the GOP whine about not getting a third analysis of climate change legislation, consider how many people may become sick or die due to climate change impacts that include the spreading of disease, heat stress, lack of water, rising seas flooding out communities and islands and how a failure to debate and pass climate change legislation will also delay addressing these impacts.