Republicans Boycott Panel Debate on Climate Bill

Democrats who control a key U.S. Senate panel said they would begin discussions on a climate change bill on Tuesday, despite a planned boycott by minority Republicans who want more study of the issue.

Senator Barbara Boxer, the California Democrat who chairs the Environment and Public Works Committee, wants to have a bill approved by her panel before an international summit on global warming convenes in Copenhagen in December.

The wrangling over when debate can start illustrated how difficult it will be to get any bill to the Senate floor and passed into law before year end, complicating President Barack Obama's hopes that the United States will take a leading role in Copenhagen.

A committee aide, who asked not to be identified, cited Senate rules saying that Tuesday's committee session could occur if at least 10 of the 19 members attend. Democrats control 12 of the seats, Reuters reports.

News agencies also report, that to stall the committee markup of the 959-page Kerry-Boxer bill, Senator James Inhofe has convinced the other republican members to boycott discussion on the legislation. In response, Boxer said, “We urge Ranking Member Inhofe, with the utmost respect, to bring the committee Republicans back to work on this issues. We will give them the opportunity, as we proceed this week, to reconsider their decision.”

The markup will go forward as planned, starting tomorrow, even though republicans haven’t budged. They are “disappointed that the majority seems intent on moving forward with a markup before receiving a full analysis from the EPA,” committee republican spokesman Matt Dempsey told the Washington Post.

Committee members were asked to send in their amendments to the bill by 9 a.m. today, but most democrats interviewed about it said they were mostly satisfied with the legislation’s language, VentureBeat reports.

It was also reported, the chances of passage are not looking so good because Democrats are split and Republicans are largely opposing the measure.

The the House version that has already passed, this bill is likely to include a cap and trade provision that allows a certain amount of carbon dioxide and those who do not or can't comply with limits can buy credits from those who are complying.

The Dems have even thrown in an incentive to get Republican support: expedited approval of new nuclear power plants, Baltimore Sun reports.

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