Last Night’s Senate Floor Drama

Sheryl CanterThis post is by Sheryl Canter, an online writer and editorial manager at Environmental Defense Fund.

It took until 9:45pm last night to finish reading aloud the 491-page Climate Security Act – the latest in a series of Republican stall tactics. Afterwards, a very angry Harry Reid (Senate Majority Leader) accused Republicans of "doing everything in their power to slow, stop and stall" the bill, citing a GOP strategy memo obtained from a lobbyist. The memo (this Grist post links to it) said the Republicans’ goal was to "make political points" rather than amend the bill.

To move things forward, Reid filed a cloture motion to limit debate to 30 hours and proceed with a vote. This sparked another fight.

Republicans argued that there weren’t enough senators in the chamber to make the motion. So late last night, Reid asked for a vote on whether the Sergeant-at-Arms should summon absent senators back to the chamber. The vote was defeated 27-28, but senators had to be called back for the procedural vote and Reid got his quorum, anyway.

The Senate will debate the Climate Security Act today and tomorrow. The cloture vote, which requires 60 votes to pass, is scheduled for late Friday morning. If the motion doesn’t pass, Reid is expected to pull the bill from the floor, leaving the issue for next year with a new president and a new Congress.

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