This vote was on an amendment by Christopher Bond, R-Mo., that would create a new parliamentary maneuver by which future climate change legislation could be defeated more easily. In order for this parliamentary maneuver to be used, the climate change legislation would have to exceed the spending targets set down in the budget resolution. The amendment was offered was offered to the budget resolution that serves as the blueprint for Congress’ budget priorities in fiscal 2010. The budget resolution sets overall spending targets for the Appropriations committees and outlines other budget rules.
Bond said his amendment would prevent future legislation that kills jobs in the coal and manufacturing-dependent regions of the United States, such as the Midwest, the Great Plains, and the South. The jockeying over climate change was spurred by a proposal put forth by President Obama that would implement a cap-and-trade system for carbon emissions that would raise $646 billion in revenues over 10 years. A “cap-and-trade” system would basically cap the amount of climate change-affecting pollution that an industry could emit, and then set up an “emissions allowances” system whereby industries that need to purchase more than their cap can buy allowances from those who fall below their cap.
“There is no question climate change legislation will raise trillions of dollars in Federal revenue through its Government auction of carbon allowances. President Obama said ‘electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket.’ This new energy tax will kill jobs in energy-intensive sectors such as manufacturing, auto assembly, steel, cement, plastics, glass, and fertilizer,” Bond said. “I ask my colleagues to protect our workers by supporting this amendment.”
Kent Conrad, D-N.D., said the budget resolution sets aside a pot of allowed spending for energy initiatives, but exactly how that money gets spent is up to the committees with jurisdiction over energy.
“It is entirely up to the committees of jurisdiction what legislation they write to reduce our dependence on foreign energy, to deal with global climate change. This resolution makes absolutely no determination about what those committees will report. The effect of this amendment, to me, is a nullity because it is creating a [new parliamentary rule] against something that does not exist” in this bill, Conrad said.
By a vote of 54-44, the Senate adopted the amendment. Every Republican present voted for the amendment. Of Democrats present, 13 voted for the amendment and 42 voted against it. The Democratic vote was fractured over the issue of job losses, with most of the 13 who voted for the amendment representing coal-producing states. The end result is that the measure went forward with language that would create a new parliamentary rule that would make it easier to defeat climate change legislation that exceeded the budget resolution’s spending caps.