Dead End

The Senate held a cloture vote this morning to bring to a close debate on the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act, a vote that would have allowed the amendment process to begin. After four days of conversation and delays, the bill died, failing to reach the 60 votes needed to invoke cloture by a vote of 48-36. Unable to move forward, Democratic leadership yanked the bill from the floor.

In a press conference following the vote, Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) were optimistic about the vote despite not clearing the 60-vote hurdle.

“This is a giant step forward,” said Lieberman. “It may be a small step for mankind, but it’s a giant step for the United States Senate. It puts us on the path to getting this done hopefully next year.”

Boxer and Lieberman said they are counting this as a 54-36 vote, because Sens. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.), Barack Obama (D-Ill.), John McCain (R-Ariz.), Norm Coleman (R-Minn.), Joe Biden (D-Del.), and Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) all submitted statements [PDF] declaring that had they been present today, they would have voted for cloture. Boxer said their greatest expectation at the start of this process was to get 51 votes.

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.

Both Lieberman and Boxer noted that the last major vote on a climate bill — on the McCain-Lieberman Climate Stewardship Act in 2005 — got only 38 votes.

“In America, change doesn’t happen overnight,” said Boxer. “This was a good ending for us.”

She said today’s vote — and the support from both presidential candidates — is a positive development, and creates a “road map” for next year.

“We will have the Senate next year, and we will have a president who will be hospitable to this subject,” said Boxer.

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.

Most Democrats voted for and most Republicans voted against, but there was some cross-over. Democrats Mary Landrieu (La.), Sherrod Brown (Ohio), Byron Dorgan (N.D.), and Tim Johnson (S.D.) voted against cloture. Republicans Susan Collins (Maine), Mel Martinez (Fla.), Olympia Snowe (Maine), Gordon Smith (Ore.), John Sununu (N.H.), Elizabeth Dole (N.C.), and lead cosponsor John Warner (Va.) all voted for.

After the vote, Brown spoke up in defense of his “no.” “I am committed 100 percent to passing a robust cap-and-trade policy,” said Brown. “I could not settle for this legislation because it may hurt my state … I would introduce a bill that would combat global warming without hurting families.”

The entire list of those who voted against cloture:

Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.)
Wayne Allard (R-Colo.)
Kit Bond (R-Mo.)
Sam Brownback (R-Kan.)
Richard Burr (R-N.C.)
Bob Corker (R-Tenn.)
Michael Enzi (R-Wy.)
Jamees Inhofe (R-Okla.)
Tom Coburn (R-Okla.)
Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.)
Pat Roberts (R-Kansas)
Roger Wicker (R-Miss.)
Jim Bunning (R-Ky.)
Mike Crapo (R-Idaho)
Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.)
John Barrasso (R-Wy.)
Dick Lugar (R-Ind.)
Tim Johnson (D-S.D.)
Pete Domenici (R-N.M.)
George Voinovich (R-Ohio)
Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.)
David Vitter (R-La.),
Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.)
John Thune (R-S.D.)
Orrin Hatch (R-Utah)
Mary Landrieu (D-La.)
Richard Shelby (R-Ala.)
Robert Bennett (R-Utah)
Thad Cochran (R-Miss.)
Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa)
Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas)
Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.)
John Ensign (R-Nev.)
Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.)
Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.)
Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio)