Tuesday, April 7, 2009

U.S. Cap and Trade Will Need 60 Votes in the Senate

Last week, in a move that received relatively little attention, the U.S. Senate approved a measure effectively requiring that 60 votes will be needed to pass any American cap-and-trade legislation.

The Republican-sponsored measure, which passed by a 67-31 vote, provides that the cap-and-trade legislation will not receive so-called "reconciliation protection." Legislation that receives such protection is not subject to the vagaries of the Senate's filibuster procedure in which 60 votes are needed to move legislation forward.

As reported in the Financial Times ("Senate Rules Out Fast-Track Action to Push Through Climate Change Laws," April 3, 2009), "While not binding, the [measure], which drew support from more than 20 Democratic senators, showed the Obama administration had little chance of forcing through climate change measures as part of the budget. It also underscored the difficulty that Mr. Obama will face winning support for his proposed cap-and-trade system even outside the budget process, raising the possibility of the U.S. arriving empty-handed at the next round of United Nations talks on climate change in Copenhagen in December."

That scream you just heard (or thought you heard) was from the Berlaymont in Brussels, home of the "very pro" cap-and-trade European Commission.

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