Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Bush mercury plan squeaks through Senate vote

The Senate voted 47-51 today to reject the effort led by Senator Leahy to reject the Bush administration's industry-friendly mercury rules.

Fifteen senators crossed party lines in the vote. (See below.)

Even though the pro-environment side came up a few votes short, they demonstrated that the so-called "clear skies" legislation has no legs as currently written. The 47 would be more than enough for a filibuster to keep it from becoming law.

Look for the mercury issue to be settled by the courts, which are likely to throw out the illegal Bush rules and tell the agency to do a proper job.

Six Democrats -- Sens. Max Baucus (Mont.), Robert Byrd (W.Va.), Kent Conrad (N.D.), Byron Dorgan (N.D.), Ben Nelson (Neb.) and Mark Pryor (Ark.) -- joined 45 Republicans against the resolution. In support of the measure were 37 Democrats, Vermont independent Sen. Jim Jeffords and nine Republicans: Sens. Lamar Alexander (Tenn.), Lincoln Chafee (R.I.), Norm Coleman (Minn.), Susan Collins (Maine), Judd Gregg (N.H.), John McCain (Ariz.), Gordon Smith (Ore.), Olympia Snowe (Maine) and John Sununu (N.H.).

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