We haven’t commented yet on what happened in Congress yesterday; the House and Senate both passed versions of President Obama’s budget. It’s premature to know exactly what the budget will contain, since a conference committee will reconcile the two bills and ballyhooed “cuts” by one body or the other may slip quietly back into the bill.
The Republicans did score some successes, however. The most notable was the amendment offered by Mike Johanns to prohibit use of the reconciliation procedure for “climate change legislation involving a cap and trade system.” The point of this amendment is that the administration will not be able to slide cap and trade through the Senate with 50 votes as part of the budget bill. Rather, it will have to follow a normal process, which leaves open the possibility of a filibuster.
Johanns’ amendment passed on a 67-31 vote, with a considerable number of Democrats joining the Republicans. They were largely, but not entirely, Midwesterners who were not prepared to see their states’ economies devastated by this foolish environmental measure. So for now, at least, it looks as though we have dodged the carbon tax bullet.
The other significant point, I think, is that no Republicans in either chamber voted for the Obama budget. That budget is a slow-motion disaster, and by going on record against it, the Republican Party has, one hopes, laid the foundation for its comeback.