Voinovich joins Senate panel's climate-change markup under protest

As other Republicans boycotted the US Senate Environment and Public Works Committee’s markup of global climate-change legislation on Nov. 3, George V. Voinovich (Ohio) showed up to work with what he said was still incomplete information.

Nick Snow
OGJ Washington Editor

WASHINGTON, DC, Nov. 4 -- As other Republicans boycotted the US Senate Environment and Public Works Committee’s markup of global climate-change legislation on Nov. 3, George V. Voinovich (Ohio) showed up to work with what he said was still incomplete information.

“I agree with you that climate change and how our nation addresses it is of incredible importance,” he told Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), the committee’s chairwoman, in his opening statement. “But, in my 44 years in public service, I have learned that tackling significant problems requires the best information available and the most rigorous analysis from unbiased sources. I don’t recall ever finding meaningful solutions with incomplete information and partisanship.”

Republicans have complained that the US Environmental Protection Agency’s analysis of S. 1733, which Boxer and John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) introduced on Sept. 30, was not adequate for the committee to work knowledgably on the bill.

In her opening statement, Boxer said she and the committee’s majority staff took steps to provide more information sooner than usual as the markup approached. The committee held 3 days’ of hearings and heard from 54 witnesses on nine panels Oct. 27-29 in addition to 28 earlier global warming hearings during 2009, she said. “To ensure that members had all the information required for this markup, we made the chairman’s mark public a full 10 days prior to this meeting, rather than the 3 days required,” she added.

The committee’s majority also released EPA’s analysis of the bill, which she said was built on 5 weeks of analysis by the agency of HR 2454, the measure cosponsored by Reps. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.) and Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) which the House approved by 7 votes on June 26, and another 2 weeks of analysis of changes in S. 1733 which Boxer said modified the House bill by only about 10%.

Boxer also reportedly is feeling pressure from other Democrats on the committee such as Max Baucus (Mont.) and Ben Nelson (Neb.) to modify the bill. She said that she expects the committee to resume its markup on Nov. 4.

More than typical
“That’s 7 weeks of analysis, involving tens of thousands of pages of documentation. There is no reason to do additional analysis and spend more taxpayer dollars when the work has been done,” she said. “EPA has made it clear they stand behind the economic analysis and that it is more analysis than is typically provided before a markup.”

Voinovich responded that he appreciated Boxer’s delaying the markup and pushing back the deadline by which Republicans can offer amendments, as well as her inviting EPA to explain its analysis to the committee later that afternoon. “However, while I respect your intent, the issue before us is not whether we understand EPA’s 38-page discussion paper on S. 1733 and its current analysis of Waxman-Markey,” he continued. “Rather, the issue is that the committee lacks a full analysis, with modeling runs, of S. 1733. Having an EPA briefing does nothing to change that.”

Voinovich said the EPA briefing also was unnecessary because it has already agreed to analyze the bill using modeling inputs and assumptions which he requested. “So we should be able to reach a bipartisan agreement to get it done. My staff worked together with EPA’s modelers over several weeks to reach this agreement, and I appreciate their hard work. No more negotiation is needed. Chairman Boxer, all you need to do is give your consent, and EPA can begin its work immediately,” Voinovich said.

“There is no doubt that, based on the make-up of the committee, S. 1733 will move forward. The majority has the votes, five more on the committee than the minority,” he continued. “While I believe that S. 1733 will likely move forward with policies that I oppose, I can’t imagine why we would move ahead without the best information possible from the agency that will be charged with implementing the legislation.”

Boxer also reportedly is feeling pressure from other Democrats on the committee such as Max Baucus (Mont.) and Ben Nelson (Neb.) to modify the bill. She said that she expects the committee to resume its markup on Nov. 4.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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