Democratic News

The climate change amendment that Senator Bingaman offered and the Senate adopted yesterday did not end global warming, but, after years of denial, it clearly and unmistakably puts the United States Senate on record as acknowledging the problem and saying that something mandatory ought to be done about it.


Folks, that’s huge.  Ignore the bleating and whining and carping from some that this was “an easy vote for a lot of people” and “nobody is going to pay a lot of attention to a Sense of the Senate.”  If that was the case, why did the White House lobby so fiercely to defeat this resolution?  If that was the case, why was the Vice President’s office urging changes minutes before the resolution was voted?


Here’s reality:  For the first time, a majority of the U.S. Senate has agreed that the warming of our planet is real … that this warming is at least partly caused by human activities … that “mandatory limits” on emissions will be required to deal with this … and that Congress needs to move ahead with legislation to address the problem.


More reality:  Passage of this amendment marks a fundamental shift in the politics of global warming and makes clear that a mandatory program (to control greenhouse gas emissions) is inevitable.  It’s no longer a question of if, but now a matter of when, and how.


Spin to shrink the significance of yesterday’s Sense of the Senate is, to use the technical term, a bunch of hooey.  Remember, the Byrd-Hagel resolution on climate change back in 1997 also was a Sense of the Senate.  Yesterday’s bipartisan 53-44 vote is certainly a more current view of the Senate sentiment.


As staff, we are proud of Sen. Bingaman for being willing to take on this issue, for his persuasive advocacy with his colleagues, and for his unerring understanding of how far the Senate was willing to go.  We also are proud of all those Senators (including 12 Republicans) who, despite very heavy-handed lobbying by the White House to block any deal to reduce global warming pollution, rejected the Administration’s do-nothing approach.


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Bill Wicker

Democratic Communications Director

Senate Energy & Natural Resources