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Consumer First Energy Act of 2008 - Motion to Proceed - Continued

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC


CONSUMERS FIRST ENERGY ACT OF 2008--MOTION TO PROCEED--Continued -- (Senate - June 05, 2008)

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Mr. SPECTER. Madam President, I seek recognition to announce that due to my chemotherapy treatment in Philadelphia tomorrow, I will necessarily be absent from the expected cloture vote to end debate on the Boxer substitute to the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act, S. 3036. If I were present, it would be my intention to oppose cloture at this time.

As I stated earlier today on the Senate floor, I am sorry to see that the majority leader has filled the so-called amendment tree on the global warming bill, thereby blocking all amendments. This is the 12th time he has employed this legislative tactic in the 110th Congress. It is a sad state of affairs in the U.S. Senate when we take up legislation on such a pressing matter as global climate change and 4 or 5 days later find ourselves being asked to end debate when the debate hasn't even begun in earnest.

I was looking forward to really focusing my attention and that of my colleagues on the very crucial issues that are part of this extremely complex bill. As I have said repeatedly, I believe we need to take action on global warming, and I have felt this way for many years. In 2001, Senator Collins and I wrote to President Bush recommending that he re-engage in the Kyoto process because the U.S. should lead on this issue and have a seat at the international table.

My commitment to fighting global warming is also evidenced in the work I have done with the chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Senator Bingaman. During the energy bill debate of 2005, we offered the Bingaman-Specter sense-of-the-Senate amendment that put the Senate on record for the first time supporting mandatory climate change legislation--a 54 to 43 vote. In the intervening years, we worked diligently to craft a bill that balanced the concerns so many of our colleagues have had on both sides of the aisle. Our Low Carbon Economy Act, S. 1766, would establish mandatory emissions caps while protecting the economy and encouraging international action. Whatever eventually passes Congress and is signed into law will have to meet these difficult tests.

We have spent this week debating whether to proceed to the Lieberman-Warner bill. Many Senators filed amendments starting Wednesday afternoon, which was the first opportunity to do so. I filed four substantive amendments today. However, despite the repeated urging of Senators, including me, the majority leader decided to fill the so-called amendment tree, which has the practical effect of blocking any amendments from being officially offered, debated, and voted on the Senate floor. This has set up a scenario where Senators are being asked to vote for cloture--to end debate--on the underlying Boxer substitute without ever having the opportunity to amend it. This begs the question of whether the Boxer substitute is so perfect that nothing in its 492 pages should be scrutinized--or whether more pages should be added.

This kind of process puts Senators in a difficult position. I have stated my desire to pass legislation combating global warming. I represent a State with 12 million people and a very diverse electorate and economy. There are many Pennsylvanians who would like me to vote for the Lieberman-Warner bill. There are also many who want me to oppose it. I have met with citizens, companies, faith leaders, sportsmen, conservationists, environmentalists, union officials, and others who have expressed a broad range of opinions. What I have tried to do is take all of these concerns and work with my colleagues such as Senator Bingaman to craft sound public policy that exerts U.S. leadership in tackling the very real environmental problems we are facing, but also recognizes the uncertainty with creating the Nation's first economywide cap-and-trade program.

On Monday, June 2, I presented a detailed floor statement on my past activities on climate change and on my concerns with the Lieberman-Warner bill. Some of the questions and concerns I raised included whether the Lieberman-Warner emissions caps are technologically attainable, whether the bill adequately protected the economy, whether the bill strongly adequately addressed the competitiveness of domestic manufacturers, and whether the bill fairly treats process gas emissions from steel production, to which there are no alternative methods. I filed four amendments dealing with these issues, but, again, none of my amendments nor any others will be permitted by the majority. Now, it is important to note that I am not set in stone on anything. I am open to rethinking my position on various elements of a climate change bill. I also think I deserve the opportunity to state my case and have my opinion and ideas considered.

Given the current legislative situation and lack of proper consideration of this incredibly important legislation, I do not support the effort to invoke cloture on the substitute at this time. I commit to continuing to work with my colleagues to find a solution to the very serious issue of climate change. We should be acting with the speed and deliberation that this massive yet essential undertaking deserves.

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