Tea Leaf Reading From Murkowski Resolution Vote?

Acting pursuant to the Congressional Review Act, Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) introduced a “resolution of disapproval” seeking to veto EPA’s endangerment finding regarding greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Senator Lisa MurkowskiThe endangerment finding is the foundation for EPA’s vehicle emission standards and the newly adopted regulations covering GHG emissions from stationary sources. While failing by 47 – 53 on a procedural vote to allow the resolution to proceed, saving the Senators from a rare roll call vote on climate policy, the Resolution may provide some insight into the views of undecided lawmakers.

Republican Senators unanimously supported Murkowski and six Democrats (Jay Rockefeller (WV), Ben Nelson (NE), Mary Landrieu (LA) Evan Bayh (IN), and Mark Pryor and Blanche Lincoln (AR)) also voted to allow the Resolution to proceed. Rather than focus on the climate change implications of the Resolution, Democratic Senators opposing the Resolution couched their comments in terms of energy policy and protection of “Big Oil.” Republicans took a similar tack emphasizing the energy and economic ills of EPA action with Mitch McConnell (R-KY) calling EPA’s regulations a “back-door national energy tax.”

Following the vote, Democrats continued to refer to potential climate change legislation as anything but a cap-and-trade bill. Senator Richard Durbin (IL) stated the bill to be considered next month will “deal with energy and clean-energy jobs” and Majority Leader Harry Reid (NV) stated: “We don’t use the word cap-and-trade; that’s something that’s been deleted from my dictionary.”

Although several Senators voting in favor of the Resolution voiced their concerns over the impacts of GHG emissions on global climate change, it remains to be seen if a cap-and-trade bill by any other name can garner 60 votes.