What: All Issues : Environment : (S. 1) On a motion to table (kill) an amendment stating that climate change is a real problem that requires urgent action to prevent “irreparable harm” to the planet (2015 senate Roll Call 16)
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(S. 1) On a motion to table (kill) an amendment stating that climate change is a real problem that requires urgent action to prevent “irreparable harm” to the planet
senate Roll Call 16     Jan 22, 2015
Progressive Position:
Nay
Progressive Result:
Loss
Qualifies as polarizing?
Yes
Is this vote crucial?
No

This vote was on a motion to table (kill) an amendment stating that climate change is a real problem that requires urgent action to prevent “irreparable harm” to the planet.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) offered the amendment during consideration of a bill authorizing construction of a controversial oil pipeline. Sen. Sanders’ amendment was not designed to have any practical impact on federal policy; rather, it represented a statement of the “sense of Congress” on the topic of climate change. The amendment asserted that climate change was real and human-caused. It also stated that policymakers had “a brief window of opportunity” in which they must act – specifically by transitioning away from fossil fuels – to avoid “irreparable harm” to the planet.

However, before the amendment came to a vote, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) offered a “motion to table” it. If successful, this motion would prevent Sen. Sanders’ amendment from getting an up-or-down vote, effectively killing it.

Sen. Sanders argued that his amendment deserved an up-or-down vote because it made an important statement about climate change and the urgency with which Congress must act. He noted that the overwhelming scientific consensus was that humans were causing climate change. Quick and dramatic policy changes were required to avert the potential for disaster, he said.

“It is imperative that the United States transforms its energy system away from fossil fuels and toward energy efficiency and sustainable energy as rapidly as possible,” Sen. Sanders said. “That doesn't mean you close down every coal-burning plant in America tomorrow, but it does mean we move away from fossil fuel to energy efficiency and sustainable energy as rapidly as possible.”

Supporters of the motion to table Sen. Sanders’ amendment said they did not believe in the scientific consensus on climate change. Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) argued that politicians like Al Gore and groups like the United Nations had promoted the idea because they wanted to gain wealth and power for themselves. In reality, the science was not settled, he argued.

“I have good friends on the other side that really believe (in climate change), and I think that one sometimes has to open it up and realize there is another side to this story. When they say that 97 percent, 98 percent of the scientists agree, it just isn't true,” Sen. Inhofe said.

The Senate agreed to the motion to table Sen. Sanders’ amendment by a vote of 56-42. Voting “yea” were 53 Republicans and 3 Democrats. Voting “nay” were 42 Democrats. As a result, the Senate defeated the effort to hold an up-or-down vote on an amendment stating that climate change is a real problem that requires urgent action to prevent “irreparable harm” to the planet.

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