The US Senate on Thursday passed with bipartisan support a non-binding amendment to the 2016 budget that prohibits the federal government from introducing a carbon tax.
The amendment, a sort of litmus test on the issue for Republicans ahead of the upcoming fiscal year, was approved by a vote of 58 to 42, with four Democrats breaking rank to side with the opposition.
The amendment, one of several tabled on Thursday that take aim at President Obama’s environmental policies, sets up a deficit-neutral reserve fund that prevents a federal tax or fee from being imposed on any entity that is a direct or indirect source of greenhouse gas emissions.
The measure was sponsored by Republican Senators Roy Blunt from Missouri and John Thune from South Dakota, who said it would protect American jobs while shielding families from higher energy costs.
This was the fourth time that Blunt has introduced an anti-carbon tax amendment in the past two years.
The Democrat Senators who supported the amendment were Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Claire McCaskill of Missouri and West Virginia’s Joe Manchin.
The vote came hours after a separate amendment proposed by Vermont Democrat Bernie Sanders was narrowly defeated in the Senate by a 49-50 vote.
Sanders’ amendment called on American lawmakers to recognise that climate change is real and caused by humans, and urged Congress to pass laws to cut the country’s carbon emissions.
Democrat Senator Barbara Boxer of California, speaking ahead of the vote on Blunt and Thune’s amendment, said putting a price on carbon could boost the economy.
“If you look at my state, we are creating jobs in clean energy, we’re balancing our budget better than we ever have before … so I don’t know why on earth we would say ‘no’ to something that leads to prosperity,” she said, as quoted by The Hill.
California is one of 10 US states that have introduced a cap-and-trade system.
The Senate also approved an amendment that makes it impossible for the government to withhold infrastructure funding from states that don’t comply with the EPA’s regulations on carbon emissions from power plants. The amendment was introduced by Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
By Mike Szabo – firstname.lastname@example.org