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Inhofe disagreed and said in a statement that the vote by committee Democrats, which he called “the nuclear option,” would make it impossible to win Republican support in the full Senate. Reid has set no timetable to take up the climate legislation, but observers expect no action until next year. Five other Senate committees are also slated to write language for inclusion in the bill.

“The only thing to be done was to vote it out of committee, but procedurally there are many more steps. There’s no doubt in my mind about the desirability of moving forward,” Specter said.

“In some respects, today’s action is more the end of the beginning than the beginning of the end. In short, today’s action marks another step along the path, but there is much further to go,” agreed Scott Segal, an attorney at Bracewell & Giuliani who represents energy and manufacturing interests, in a statement.

The legislation can be read here.