Domenici Warns Reid to Allow Amendments to Climate Change Bill

June 4, 2008
06:20 PM
      Earlier this afternoon, Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Ranking Member Pete Domenici warned Majority Leader Harry Reid not to “fill the amendment tree,” on the Climate Change Bill, which is a procedural tactic used to block Senators from offering amendments.
          “It is probably the biggest, most complicated bill we’ve had certainly in the 36 years that I’ve been a Senator.  This bill we’re talking about has been on the floor only three days, four days, and already we’re considering closing off debate.  It needs more time, not closing off opportunities to amend it,” Domenici said.  
          Below is the text of Senator Domenici’s floor statement:
          Mr. President, I am concerned about rumors that the Majority Leader’s may do what is called filling the tree, which means he is not going to allow anyone to offer amendments to a bill that is clearly in need of improvement.
          This is not how the Senate handles important and complicated matters like the cap-and-trade bill that we are debating.  At least, it is not how the Senate used to handle important matters.
          In 1990, when the Senate debated the Clean Air Act amendments, that process took five weeks.  During the debate, 180 amendments were offered and 131 were ultimately acted upon by the full Senate.  60 of the amendments acted upon were offered by Democrats.
          Even when we considered the Energy Policy Act just three years ago, a bill much smaller than this one, that bill was on the floor for two weeks and there were 19 amendments voted on.
          This legislation is far-reaching.  It is economy wide.  The CBO has said it sets up a new form of currency and many have called it the most far-reaching expansion of government since the 1930’s.  It is likely to be the most expensive non-appropriations bill in American history.  Have we given thought to the fact that we are about to create a new market for carbon that may be a blueprint for the very problems we saw in the mortgage crisis?  No, we have not thought about that because we won’t have a hearing on this substitute bill.  We won’t have a mark-up on this substitute bill. We won’t have an economic or environmental analysis of the substitute bill.   And, it now appears we won’t even get to amend the new Boxer substitute bill.
          I’ve been here 36 years, and I have never seen anything like this.  As I prepare to retire, and I reflect on my time in the Senate, I look back to the days where we balanced a budget and we passed comprehensive energy legislation in a bipartisan way.  We did this with thoughtful, careful, considered judgment and analysis and we did not make unsupported claims.  I hope the Senate returns to those days in the coming years, because it will be in best traditions of this body and in the best interest of our people.
         I yield the floor.