Voinovich Calls It ‘Cynical’ To Push Climate Change Legislation Right Now

Sen. George Voinovich sharply criticized Senate leadership this afternoon for beginning a debate on a climate change bill, saying that “even in the best of circumstances” there isn’t enough time to get something done in an election year. Voinovich (R-OH) is a key moderate Republican often courted by Democrats and the White House, especially since he announced he’s retiring. But he was livid today on Capitol Hill.

Speaking with reporters as Senate Democrats huddled to evaluate a plan Majority Leader Harry Reid wants to start debating next week, Voinovich minced no words as he called Reid’s attempt “cynical” and intellectually dishonest.“Anybody that has been in the Senate for any period of time knows there is no way, no way, that an energy bill is going to get done between now and the election or for that matter between now and the end of this year,” Voinovich told reporters. “This whole thing is very cynical.”

“Give me a break. This is just going through the motions, maybe to satisfy some people in your conference, but don’t kid us about we’re going to come forward with this thing and it’s going to be serious,” Voinovich said. “Anybody that’s being intellectually honest has got to say we do not have the time to do aything meaningful at this time in regards to climate change.”

Some senators believe there might be a chance to pass a watered down “energy” bill as a response to the Gulf Coast oil spill. Voinovich said he believes that’s possible but, looking at the waning calendar before the midterm elections, said it’s a dubious prospect. But more to the point, he said the bill written by Sens. John Kerry (D-MA), Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) has no chance. The numbers tell a similar story, especially since Graham walked away from the compromise legislation earlier this year over frustration with immigration politics.

Democrats leaving their lunch after Kerry presented the legislation were not as skeptical at Voinovich, but some acknowledged the calendar is a challenge when the Senate still must complete work on a supplemental spending bill for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and vote on Elena Kagan’s confirmation to the Supreme Court before recess.