I mentioned yesterday that the Senate would allow votes on amendments to the small business bill that would block the EPA from greenhouse gas regulations. The amendments that Democrats came up with, to soften or delay the rules for a set period of time, went nowhere. The Baucus amendment got 7 votes. The Stabenow amendment got 7 votes. The Rockefeller amendment got 12. All Republicans decided to throw in their lot with the maximalist McConnell amendment, which would simply prohibit the EPA from “promulgating any regulation concerning, taking action relating to, or taking into consideration the emission of a greenhouse gas to address climate change.”

Here’s the roll call. It got 50 votes even. So it would not have even passed if there was a 60-vote threshold. All Republicans except Susan Collins voted for it, but only four Democrats – Manchin, Landrieu, Nelson (NE) and Pryor – joined them. So it failed.

If Republicans would join with Democrats on one of the weaker amendments, perhaps it would pass, but even that’s not clear, as only 9 Democrats joined with Rockefeller on the most successful of them.

The White House released this statement:

The administration is encouraged by the Senate’s actions today to defend the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to protect public health under the Clean Air Act. By rejecting efforts to rollback EPA’s common-sense steps to safeguard Americans from harmful pollution, the Senate also rejected an approach that would have increased the nation’s dependence on oil, contradicted the scientific consensus on global warming, and jeopardized America’s ability to lead the world in the clean energy economy. The Clean Air Act is a vital tool in protecting our families – particularly children – from a wide variety of harmful pollutants that cause asthma and lung disease, and the administration remains committed to protecting this important law.

They had threatened to veto any bill with EPA restrictions in it, anyway. But the fact that there’s no majority in the Senate for these amendments is good news.

That won’t stop the House, of course, who in the midst of their own bill to block EPA greenhouse gas regulations actually voted against science:

The House rejected a Democratic amendment Wednesday that would have put the chamber on record backing the widely held scientific view that global warming is occurring and humans are a major cause.

Lawmakers voted 184-240 against Rep. Henry Waxman’s (D-Calif.) amendment to a GOP-led bill that would strip the Environmental Protection Agency’s power to regulate greenhouse gases.

And you wonder why we have so many problems. Look at the best and the brightest we choose to represent us!

On a related issue, Tom Coburn got two amendments passed yesterday, one to end federal unemployment payments for “millionaires and billionaires,” which would save $20 million according to him; and another to save $5 billion on a series of unspecified “duplicative” programs. So Coburn’s apparently succeeding at the budget negotiations where House Republicans have failed. However, he lacked the courage to keep pressing for the cancellation of ethanol subsidies, dropping the effort to attach it to this small business bill.

David Dayen

David Dayen