Boxer Ostensibly Breaks Climate Bill Committee Rules Two Days Running (Update 2)

Apparently, rules don’t apply to zealots-with-gavels convinced they were put on this planet to secure its salvation.

Lacking a single occupied Republican seat in the room, Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee chair Barbara Boxer (D-CA) has nonetheless moved markup of the climate bill she cosponsors ahead for a second straight day.  And in doing so, the ever-arrogant eco-crusader appears to be walking a thin green legal line.

Here’s the latest:

Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) arrived at the EPW hearing room this morning to restate the GOP position that markup should be postponed pending comprehensive cost analysis. The ranking member delivered a brief speech and a copy of a letter to Boxer, responded to a few questions, and then exited the proceedings.

The letter, written yesterday by Sen. George Voinovich (R-OH) and addressed to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa Jackson, questioned the purpose of continued EPW briefings prior to completion of a full EPA cost analysis.  Voinovich was the lone Republican to show up at yesterday’s hearings, where he delivered a similar message, adding that an earlier EPA study, which forecasts an $80 to $111 cost per average household, was incomplete and based on both a markedly different Bill (House passed Waxman-Markey) and “unrealistic assumptions.” 

Before leaving the hearing this morning, Inhofe reiterated the need for both the committee and the public to be provided with a fair projection of the Bill’s costs prior to markup.  And it was Boxer, who yesterday accused Republicans of “playing politics” to delay the legislation, Inhofe blamed for the holdup:
“EPA can start today to complete this analysis.  But Madam Chairman, the way we see it, you are standing in the way.  So I'm asking you this morning to work with us; let EPA do its analysis, so we can get to a markup.  It's really that simple.”

So here we are at the second day of Kerry-Boxer markup and the second day Boxer chose to proceed without GOP representation, despite committee rules requiring two members of the minority be present in order to provide a quorum for a markup.

It seems Boxer cited a “provision in the rules” she claims allows her to proceed as long as a majority of committee members are present.  Not that I don’t trust her, although I most certainly do not, but I thought a quick trip over to the EPW rules site for a look-see was in order.  

Now, according to Rule 2 of the committee rules: [my emphasis]
“At committee business meetings, and for the purpose of approving the issuance of a subpoena or approving a committee resolution, one third of the members of the committee, at least two of whom are members of the minority party, constitute a quorum, except as provided in subsection (d).”

And it appears to be the language of subsection (d) that Boxer is attempting to play games with:
“No measure or matter may be reported to the Senate by the committee unless a majority of committee members cast votes in person.”

From a layman’s reading, one would surmise that although the bill can be reported out of committee with even less than a majority, at least 2 Republicans need be present to consider any amendments.  In which case, Boxer’s decision to continue markup sessions without minority representation would be as illegal as it is unprecedented.

Interestingly enough, Boxer’s deployment of the “nuclear option,” as many Republicans are referring to it, didn’t seem to bother Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina -- the first Republican to endorse the bill. He and Senators Lieberman and Kerry just finished discussing the Bill before cameras, yet Graham said nothing about the Democrats’ impropriety.  As it was, after all, his inexplicable turncoat actions that enabled Democrats and the MSM to stamp the now meaningless label “bi-partisan” on this disastrous legislation, surely something should have been said about this breach in EPW rules.

Prior to gaveling out for today’s lunchtime recess, Boxer repeated numerous times that she intended to abide by the rules.

The question is:  Whose rules – those of the committee or those of the climate-hysterics currently controlling it?