Thursday, September 29, 2005

Unfortunate News from the House

This evening, the House failed to pass the important Miller-Boehlert substitute to Rep. Pombo's Endangered Species Act Evisceration bill, and the underlying bill later passed. I'll add more analyses of those votes once the full roll calls are available, but for now will just say that this is a very sad moment for all those of us who believe in strong protection of endangered species.

Thankfully we have some hope in the Senate, where no companion bill has yet been introduced. Senator Chafee is the chair of the subcommittee with oversight on this matter, and I hope that he will stand up for a much different bill in that chamber in the coming months. I'm very sorry to see the House votes come out this way, but I'm cautiously hopeful that we'll get a different result in the Senate and that the ESA will be productively reformed instead of gutted.

[Update: Of course I'd only just posted when the full data came online, so now I can give a bit more info here. On the substitute bill the vote was 206-216, with 11 members not voting. Twenty-nine Republicans voted with 176 Democrats in support of the amendment; 18 Dems joined 198 Republicans in voting against it. Most of the Democratic no votes came from the far West, Upper Midwest, and Southeast, while the Republican aye voters hailed mainly from the Lower Midwest and Northeast. On the overall bill, the tally was 229-193; on this there were 34 GOP no votes and 36 Democrat ayes.

This is the type of alliance we typically see on environmental legislation in the House, with regional differences playing out in important and meaningful ways. As these votes indicate, there is significant support for reform to the Endangered Species Act - the sides need to work together and agree on an approach, not force through bills like this with little debate and deliberation. Here's hoping that the Senate takes that route. -- 6:02 p.m.]


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