You see, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (up for re-election - hint, hint, Kentucky voters) doesn't want any Republicans on record on climate action. He'd much rather let people like Sen. Gordon Smith (R-OR) claim to support climate action without having to actually vote on any existing proposal. So McConnell is pushing for as much debate and delay as possible, living up to his reputation as the leader of the pack of the Roadblock Republicans.
As Greenwire reports, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid plans to try to keep McConnell on a short leash:
"We need to get some kind of agreement, a gentlemen's agreement, from the Republicans, or we'll have to approach it in a different manner," Reid said.Oh, well that's reassuring. It's not an infinite number of amendments. It's safe to say it's somewhere between one and 196,843,012. If McConnell has his way, we should have a vote on the bill just as the Capitol is swallowed by rising sea levels.
Asked about the timing for the overall debate, Reid said he expected to give senators a chance to consider amendments through this week and into the next. "I would hope that we can finish the bill next week," he said. "That'd be really good. I'm not determined to get it off the floor this week."
But Reid added, "This is the most important issue facing the world today. I want to be patient and try to get as much done as soon as we can. If we arrive at a point where we're just wasting our time, we will have to figure out something else." [...]
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said he expected Reid to allow an unlimited number of amendments on the bill, though he was not ready to say just how many the GOP planned to offer. "I don't have a number," he said. "We have some important amendments. I wouldn't call it an unlimited number."
As Grist's Kate Sheppard reports, only three Republicans spoke in favor of climate action on the first day of debate. While there are other Republicans like Sen. Norm Coleman who back strong global warming legislation, the rest are doing their best to prove that if you want to be green, you have to vote blue.