They’re Making the Clerk Read the Entire Bill

This post is by Kusai Merchant, a policy specialist for the National Climate Campaign at Environmental Defense Fund.

At about 12:50pm today, the Senate passed a Motion to Proceed with the amendment process of the Climate Security Act. But are they ready to begin a real debate on the bill or amendments? Not quite yet…

Republicans objected to starting the amendment process without first having the clerk read the entire bill. So now the clerk is reading all 491 pages, word-for-word. At the current rate, the reading will take roughly 10 hours – that includes throat clearings and swigs of water. You can watch it live on C-Span2 (Senate Session).

This is the third procedural obstacle that opponents of progress have thrown up to a debate on the climate bill.

  1. First there was a filibuster on the Motion to Proceed – debating whether to debate the bill at all. This was stopped on Monday by a resounding 74-14 "cloture" vote.
  2. Cloture limits the amount of time for debate to 30 hours. Usually this time is waived, but in their second obstruction tactic, climate change deniers and their friends insisted on the full 30 hours – wasting two full days.
  3. After wasting those 30 hours, the Motion to Proceed was finally passed this afternoon. But now, instead of debating amendments, Republican senators are insisting that the bill be read aloud, which will waste yet another day.

Together, these three obstruction tactics will use up almost an entire week.

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