Senate Democrats in 'reply mode' on climate budget amendments

Republicans already have attempted to do so, though it's unclear which amendments will receive votes. 

Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) submitted an amendment that would prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gases.

Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) tossed in a measure that would prevent federal agencies from evaluating greenhouse gas emissions from exports

Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) wants to block regulation of greenhouse gas emissions until China, India and Russia implement similar reductions. 

Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) filed an amendment to put senators on record as to whether they support a carbon tax. 

Still, plenty of Democrats filed amendments, and Whitehouse has tried to attach climate amendments to legislation in the past. When pressed on that and his reluctance to float a proposal Friday, he told reporters, “We will have lots of chances.”

The Rhode Island Democrat, one of the Senate’s strongest voices on climate change, said he wasn’t offering an amendment on the topic Friday because, “We will probably already be here until three in the morning." 

And there is probably another reason: It’s unlikely to pass, as centrist Democrats would join Republicans to block a climate amendment.

Regardless of what happens with a potential climate amendment, Senate Democrats contend their budget plan strongly backs the EPA and programs that help combat climate change.

To be sure, Democrats have a climate change amendment ready to go if Republicans come out swinging.

The amendment, from Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), would “create a deficit-neutral reserve fund related to the need to vigorously combat global warming by establishing policies that transform our energy system away from fossil fuels and into energy efficiency and sustainable energy,” according to a summary.

— Ben Geman contributed to this report.

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