Senator Robert Byrd was the lone Democrat yesterday to vote against invoking cloture on the motion to proceed to consider S. 3036, the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act. (The motion passed, 74-14.) We commend his statement to the readers as a frank assessment of the legislation and the Senate’s deliberative process. (Remarks from The Congressional Record.) Excerpts:
In early April, after months of examination, the Congressional Budget Office produced a cost estimate on S. 2191, outlining the $1 trillion impact of that measure on the Federal budget, and the $90 billion annual impact on the private sector. Incidentally, this legislation would put hundreds of billions of dollars on automatic pilot, allocated by unelected, unaccountable boards, with little congressional oversight. However, no complete estimates exist for the substitute amendment that the Senate might consider. In addition, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Energy Information Administration at the Department of Energy have produced their economic analysis of S. 2191, outlining the impact of that legislation on different sectors of the economy. But, again, no complete estimates exist for the substitute amendment that the Senate might consider if it proceeds to the underlying bill.
We must not be rushed to judgement on this vital issue. If not properly drafted, climate change legislation could bring unilateral devastation to critical sectors of the U.S. economy. It could cause massive increases in energy prices for American consumers. If not properly drafted, such legislation could well result in more harm than good.
The language of this measure is obviously still evolving, and the American people must know what is being asked of them before the Senate commits to mandatory emission caps. Otherwise, we cannot expect them to long endure the consequences that will surely follow. Without long-term public support, any effort to address this issue will eventually, and quite certainly, unravel.
UPDATE (1:20 p.m.): We don’t see any media outlets reporting Sen. Byrd’s comments, although there are stories about his taking ill after the vote. Get well soon, Senator.
UPDATE (1:50 p.m.) Senator Boxer on S. 3036: “Some of our colleagues will say this: Why do this now? We are in a recession. Precisely because we are in a recession is why we should be doing this. This bill is the first thing that brings us hope.” (Congressional Record, Page S4847)
UPDATE (2:08 p.m.): Planet Gore cites National Journal coverage of Democrats who are expressing serious doubts: Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Kent Conrad of North Dakota, and Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia.
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