WASHINGTON – The U.S. Senate dropped a major global warming bill on Friday that would have mandated major cuts in greenhouse gas emissions after it failed to garner enough votes for formal consideration.
In a 48 to 36 vote, the Climate Security Act of 2008 (S. 3036) fell a dozen votes short of the needed number to end debate and begin considering amendments to the bill, according to The Washington Post.
During its weeklong review by the Senate, the bill sparked intense partisan bickering over which party cared more about solving the problems of American citizens.
Seven Republicans, 39 Democrats and two Independents voted to move the bill forward, according to Environment News Service. Four Democrats and 32 Republicans voted in opposition.
Proponents of the bill blamed Republicans for "refusing to address one of the most important issues of our time."
Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) defended Democrats as having "tried to curb global warming, lower gas prices and invest in renewable energy, but Republicans have squandered each opportunity," according to The Washington Post.
Meanwhile, Republicans said the bill would have raised the cost of energy during a time of economic hardship.
"It is a climate tax," said Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican from the coal-producing state of Kentucky, according to ENS. "This legislation will raise gas prices, electricity prices, diesel prices, natural gas prices, and fertilizer prices. It will also put America at a significant economic disadvantage compared to the rest of the world."
The bill – sponsored by Sens. Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.) and John W. Warner (R-Va.) – called for greenhouse gas emissions to be cut 18 percent below 2005 levels by 2020 and nearly 70 percent by 2050.
Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.) described the bill as "probably the biggest, most complicated bill" the Senate has considered in the 36 years he has been a senator, according to ENS.
He noted the bill calls for 39 new rules and regulations and the establishment of 58 federal programs.
A group of pro-emission cap evangelicals had supported the bill and urged lawmakers to end the filibuster to move it forward.
"This legislation opens a new era of concern about the impact of global warming on this and future generations and we view it with a sharp moral lens," said the Rev. Jim Ball, spokesperson for the Evangelical Climate Initiative, in a statement released Thursday before the bill was pulled.
The Evangelical Climate Initiative has more than 100 signers and includes prominent pastors such as Rick Warren and Bill Hybels.
"This is no time for political machinations; it's time for the Senate to act now to protect our most vulnerable neighbors and to create a healthy world for our children and grandchildren," Ball said.
But other Christians are opposed to the bill because it requires deep cuts in carbon emissions, which they argue would be more detrimental than helpful to humans. Supporters of the "We Get It!" campaign contend that it is not proven that global warming is mainly human-induced and that the Bible teaches Christians to care for their neighbors.
"The number of premature deaths, number of diseases, and the harm to the human economy that can be predicted from the policies used to fight the warming" is more destructive than even if all the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change)-predicted global warming-caused disasters came true, Dr. E. Calvin Beisner, founder and national spokesman for the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation, said at the launch of the "We Get It!" campaign in May.
"You try to cap emissions and you kill more people than die if you don't cap emissions," Beisner said, referring to those who would die from lack of access to energy, higher food prices, and the halt in their country's economic development.
"We will have killed people," he added solemnly. "We care about this issue the same way why we care about abortion. It kills people."
Last Monday, President Bush issued a veto threat against the bill. The Bush administration opposes any mandatory limits on carbon emissions.
Opponents of the bill acknowledged that while they claimed victory with this global warming legislation, the fight will be more difficult next year given that both presidential nominees, Barack Obama and John McCain, support a mandatory carbon cap.