Darren covered this over at ClimateWire, but I’m not sure a straight news story can really capture the toxicity and absurdity of what the Inhofe is planning to do on the climate bill next week.
Some background: when the Waxman-Markey chairman’s mark was released, the EPA undertook an exhaustive five-week analysis of its economic impacts. (It found that the costs to household would be modest and the bill would actually lower electricity bills.) When the action moved over to the Senate and the Kerry-Boxer chairman’s mark was released, the EPA determined that the bill was 90 percent identical to the Waxman-Markey bill, and thus that another full, five-week modeling run was unnecessarily duplicative. Instead, it took two weeks to analyze the differences between the bills and whether they would substantially affect the economic impacts. (They wouldn’t.)
That’s seven weeks of analysis total. But not enough for Inhofe (who will, of course, vote against any bill regardless). He’s demanding that the EPA do another full, five-week modeling run, and unless he gets what he wants, he’s threatening to lead Republicans in a boycott of the markup next week.
Now, remember: the bills are 90 percent identical, and the 10 percent differences don’t alter the overall costs. So we already know exactly what a modeling run would show. We know! Everyone knows! Inhofe knows. It’s a pure, unadulterated waste of time and government resources.
Here’s Boxer’s response, from E&E:
EPW Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) is expected to notice the Tuesday markup later today despite the boycott threat. Boxer yesterday told reporters she is “going to use every tool at our disposal to get this done.”
She added, “My chief of staff and chief counsel tell me that we can go next week, according to the rules, according to what we’ve got available. And that’s our intention. That’s our plan. And that’s our hope.”
Boxer did not go into specifics on how she would move the bill, but there appear to be several options. For starters, Boxer and Senate Democratic leaders could use Senate Rule 14, which allows the majority to discharge legislation out of a committee and bring it directly to the floor.
Democrats could also break with a long-standing EPW Committee precedent that requires two minority members to be in attendance for a markup to even begin. According to the committee rules, Boxer appears to have an exception available that would pave the way for votes on both amendments and the overall bill so long as a majority of the committee’s members are present.
Going this route, according to one former Senate Democratic aide, could spell trouble for the overall legislation as Boxer and her allies continue their search for 60 votes among moderate Democrats and Republicans. “That product is totally toxic,” the former staffer warned. “It’s basically worthless.”
This last ‘graph is key: the danger here is not so much that Inhofe can block markup, but he can make the entire process so toxic that any hope of Republican support is lost — and the bill won’t pass without some Republican support.
So it’s classic Inhofe: a petty procedural ratf*ck designed to poison the waters and prevent and reasonable engagement with the issues at hand.
Oh, and don’t be misled — like Politico was — by efforts to make more moderate Rs like Voinovich and Alexander the public face of this effort. Voinovich submitted the request to the EPA weeks ago, but this has all the marks of Inhofe, the Wormtongue who whispers poison into his colleagues’ ears.