The first spending bill of the year, the Energy and Water Appropriations bill, has already hit rough waters in the Senate due to the proposal of controversial amendments.
While it has not yet been up for a vote (and may not ever be if the bill is stalled due to Senator Cotton’s (AR) amendment), Senator Lindsey Graham (SC) with a bipartisan coalition introduced an amendment that Congress has a responsibility to act on climate change since “human activity contributes to climate change.” Similar amendments have made a showing this Congress. Last year, the Senate voted 98-1 for an amendment by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (RI) stating “climate change is real and not a hoax.” However, the language did not go so far as to attribute the change to humans. An amendment claiming humans contribute “significantly” to climate change from Senator Brian Shatz (HI) was subsequently voted down 50-49. Finally, Senator John Hoeven (ND) offered an amendment stating that man-made greenhouse gases impact global temperatures. This amendment would have passed with 60 votes if Senator Hoeven (ND) himself had voted for the amendment; however, he felt the amendment could derail the broader bill if passed and voted against it.
Despite the past and current support for Senator Graham’s (SC) amendment, it may not reach a vote due in part to an amendment from Senator Tom Cotton (AR). That amendment would ban the Department of Energy from buying heavy water from Iran, which Democrats and the President see as undermining the Iran nuclear agreement.