- The Washington Times - Friday, June 6, 2008

Global warming was the bill few senators seemed to want to debate, and Friday the Senate will kill it, sending supporters back to the drawing board for the third time in five years.

Republican and Democratic leaders accused each other of purposely muddying the debate, leaving Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to schedule a premature vote and Republicans saying they will oblige Mr. Reid by killing the bill with a filibuster.

“My suspicion is there was never any great desire to seriously address what they think is the most important issue facing the planet,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said, blaming Democrats for refusing to allow the weeks of debate such a major measure needed.

He said Democrats didn’t want to be caught debating this bill with energy prices already so high and with some studies showing the bill would lead to higher gas prices and, potentially, a loss of jobs: “I think they realize they made a colossal blunder.”

Mr. Reid predicted some Republicans will join “the vast majority of Democrats” in backing the bill, but acknowledged he didn’t carve out enough debate time this year to get something done.

“This is a bill that someday is going to take some time to do,” he told reporters.

Still, he said Republican leaders foiled his attempts to at least begin the debate in earnest this year, and he said they will be blamed for the bill’s failure.

“The American people are seeing very clearly what this Republican minority is doing,” he said.

The bill in question adopts a cap-and-trade approach, establishing a limit on greenhouse gas emissions and lowering the limit to achieve dramatic reductions by 2050. This establishes a market that allows businesses to trade credits for allowable emissions, which means companies that have an easier time meeting goals can sell credits to other companies for whom the technology is not yet available to reduce emissions.

With this year’s fight all but over, all sides are now wondering whether the vote tally will give supporters momentum heading into future debates. In the previous two votes they never crossed 50 votes, much less the 60 needed to overcome a filibuster: in 2003 they had 43 votes, and in 2005 they dropped to 38.

The bill’s supporters claimed victory on a number of points, including the science on global warming. Sen. Barbara Boxer, California Democrat and chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, repeatedly needled Republicans on that point.

“Our opponents aren’t even really debating us on that anymore,” she said Wednesday.

Mr. McConnell Thursday acknowledged to reporters they had purposely avoided that part of the debate in favor of attacking the large spending and gas price implications of the bill.

Some Republicans also grumbled that Mr. McConnell stepped on their message by halting the debate Wednesday in a dispute over judicial nominations. He forced the Senate clerks to spend nearly nine hours reading the 492 pages of the global warming bill as a protest against the confirmation of judges.

But Democrats seized on the move as evidence Republicans were uselessly blocking the global warming debate, and gave Mr. Reid a reason to set up Friday’s futile vote.

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