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Senate Warming Debate Heats Up

Objecting to Democratic handling of judicial nominations, Senate Republicans are forcing the clerk to read the entire outline of the global warming legislation now on the Senate floor.

“The Democratic majority has refused to honor its commitments. It apparently believes that commitments do not matter in the United States Senate, and that actions do not have consequences,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) stated.

A senior GOP leadership aide said Wednesday that McConnell was expected to use similar procedural tactics over the next several weeks as part of a concerted effort to ramp up the GOP’s efforts on judicial nominations.

Before the Memorial Day recess, the Senate floor blew up after Republicans accused Democrats of reneging on their pledge to move a handful of President Bush’s appointees.

Despite objections to the aggressive Republican tactic forcing the reading from Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Environment and Public Works Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Republicans insisted that the reading of the 491-page document continue.

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) said the measure had not had time to be properly reviewed by his colleagues; Boxer countered that it had been public for two weeks.

Democrats dismissed McConnell’s contention that he was making a statement about judicial nominations, saying Republicans simply want to avoid the debate on climate change.

“I put this all as part of the Republican plan to defend and protect Big Oil,” Boxer charged.

Once the reading of the bill is over, in a couple of hours according to most estimates, Reid is expected to ask Republicans to agree to a debate outline that would limit the number of allowable amendments on both sides of the debate, spokesman Jim Manley said.

If Republicans object to those requests, Reid may move to restrict GOP amendments entirely by using a procedural maneuver known as “filling the amendment tree,” one knowledgeable Democratic source said.

That move would most likely only further inflame partisan tensions over both the bill and judicial nominations.

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