Inhofe vows to try, try again on block-EPA amendments

It remained unclear late Wednesday morning whether McConnell’s amendment will come up for a vote Wednesday or at a later date, although Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Tuesday that he plans to allow a vote at some point.

Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) – chairwoman of the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee – said on the floor Wednesday that the small business bill may not be completed this week. The Senate is slated to go on recess next week.

Lawmakers appeared headed for a climate vote Tuesday night, and supporters of the McConnell-Inhofe plan have alleged since then that Democrats are backing off because there is significant backing for killing EPA’s rules.

While the amendment appears unlikely to gain the 60 votes needed for adoption, a clear majority vote would nonetheless be a political setback for advocates of emissions regulations.

But Environment and Public Works Committee Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) – a strong proponent of taking action on climate change – said Wednesday that she wants to move ahead with a vote on the amendment.

“I have been pushing for it. I hope that we can vote on McConnell today,” she told reporters in the Capitol, adding opponents of the McConnell-Inhofe plan have “a lot” of support.

Several swing votes kept their cards close to the vest late Wednesday morning.

Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.), who is a co-sponsor of Rockefeller’s plan, said “no comment” and breezed past reporters when asked about the McConnell measure.

Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) didn’t say much more. “I know there are a bunch of different proposal potentially coming up, but until they come up it is hard to really comment on them,” he said.

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), who has expressed major concerns about the effect of climate rules on his manufacturing-heavy state, said there’s “zero” chance he’d back McConnell’s plan.

But he kept the door open to backing Rockefeller’s measure.

“We are still trying to work some things out,” he told reporters. “I want to see these EPA rules done in a way where we can keep jobs and bring down carbon emissions. I think doing them unilaterally doesn’t, but I don’t want to just delay, delay, delay either.”