Maria Cantwell's Effort to Save the Planet Dies in Senate

Six months ago everyone from the Seattle-based greenie think-tank Sightline Institute to the right-leaning (by British standards) Economist was applauding Maria Cantwell for a bill she introduced that would auction off the right for companies to pump carbon into the air, with the money going back to taxpayers as a dividend. But today Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced he will not be bringing any climate bills up for a vote for the foreseeable future. Why would he do such a thing, you ask. "It's easy to count to 60," he said at press conference today.

That's always the problem in the Senate. While Mr. Smith Goes to Washington might make you tear up, filibustering is a huge pain in the ass and prevents a lot of worthy legislation from getting anywhere.

Government process being very boring in real life. People don't usually take to the floor and start reading the phone book ala Jimmy Stewart. Instead the senators opposing legislation (in this case Republicans who don't want a hard cap on carbon emissions) threaten those supporting it (Democrats) it with a filibuster. It takes 60 votes to break the filibuster and if the senators wanting the bill don't have that many, they back down.

With only 59 Democrats in the Senate (blame Massachusetts), Reid usually has to convince someone from the GOP to break ranks to get anything approved. And apparently he can't do it on climate change. "My point is this, we know where we are," Reid said today, according to Politico. "We know we don't have the votes [for a bill capping emissions]."

"While we are deeply disappointed the Senate will postpone consideration of ways to address climate change, we have not given up," Cantwell says in a statement issued through her spokesperson. She better hope Democrats don't lose any more seats this November.

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