Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Keystone Vote Fails in Senate

by Elana Schor 

      It’s clear there are any number of Republican senators who will be spending lots of time desperately trying to distort their irresponsible records,” said Justin Barasky, spokesman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.
The politically charged nature of Senate debate was a big reason why now-Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) shielded vulnerable Democrats from sensitive votes in the last Congress. A number of Democrats privately argued that casting politically toxic votes on issues like Obamacare and taxes could hurt their reelection efforts. But others, like former Sen. Mark Begich of Alaska, who lost his reelection bid last fall, said having more votes would have allowed red-state Democrats to distinguish themselves from an unpopular White House.
       In the new Senate, McConnell’s caucus appears to be taking Begich’s advice.
Ayotte, who won her 2010 Senate primary with an endorsement from Sarah Palin, cast a series of votes in the opening month of the new Congress that broke sharply from her caucus. The former New Hampshire attorney general opposed a Toomey proposal that would have exempted power plants that burn waste coal from certain federal emission limits. She opposed an effort by Utah Sen. Mike Lee to make it easier to drill for oil and gas on public lands. And she opposed a proposal by a member of her party’s leadership, Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt, to hamstring international climate agreements reached by the Obama administration, including a recent pact with China.
Ayotte spokeswoman Liz Johnson said the senator’s votes “are consistent” with her “long record” of “standing up for clean air and crossing party lines to protect New Hampshire’s environment.”
        Other GOP defections took Senate insiders by surprise, particularly on climate change. In a vote last week, 15 Republicans joined with Democrats to state that climate change is “real” and that human activity “contributes” to the phenomenon. In that group were a number of Republicans facing voters in 2016, including Ayotte, Kirk, Portman, Murkowski and Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Rand Paul of Kentucky — along with Toomey.
        The Pennsylvania Republican, who narrowly won his first term in 2010 on the strength of his staunch conservative fiscal record, isn’t a recent convert on the science of global warming, his spokeswoman said.
       “Sen. Toomey has always said that human activity contributes to climate change,” said his spokeswoman, Elizabeth Anderson. “The degree to which we play a role is clearly up for debate.”

Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2015/01/moderate-republicans-mitch-mcconnell-senate-114620.html#ixzz3Q3beA0m7

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