By Ben Geman - 04/19/10 02:02 PM EDT
Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), the Senate’s leading climate skeptic, said Thursday that upcoming climate change legislation has so little political traction that it would only garner 26 Senate votes.
“I know we can beat it,” Inhofe said on the Fox Business Network, later adding, “I can assure you, I don't think they have more than 25 votes on the Democrats' side, and if you throw Lindsey Graham [R] in there, that would be 26 votes.”
South Carolina’s Graham — along with Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) — intend to roll out broad climate and energy legislation on April 26.
Supporters of the bill are no doubt confident they can corral far more support if the measure reaches the floor. The last time a climate change bill came up was June of 2008, when legislation crafted by Lieberman, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and then-Sen. John Warner (R-Va.) died on a 48-36 cloture vote.
At the time, sponsors claimed they had actually demonstrated support of 54 senators, citing statements from six senators who said they would have voted to advance the measure if they had been present (although 10 Democrats, including nine who had voted for cloture, said they would not have supported final passage of the bill unless changes were made).
This time around, Kerry, Graham and Lieberman hope they can get over the 60-vote hurdle by including several sweeteners for centrist Democrats and Republicans, such as wider federal support for nuclear power and offshore oil-and-gas drilling provisions.