The real prospect of a war with Iran is not enough. Gasoline prices averaging nationally more than $3.80 and over $4 in four states is not enough. Despite these threats to our national and economic security, forty-seven senators were enough to defeat the Pickens Plan or the Natural Gas Act on tuesday in the US Senate.
The Pickens plan was defeated, even though 51 senators voted for it, since majority rule in the Senate ended once and for all, when Senator McConnell of Kentucky at the start of the Obama presidency routinely invoked Senate rules (filibusters) that require 60 votes to end debate or to pass the vast majority of important legislation. The defeat of the Pickens Plan by 47 senators proves once more that the US Senate is totally dysfunctional.
While the Pickens plan is co-sponsored by Democratic senators Menendez of New Jersey and Reid of Nevada, and Republican senator Burr of North Carolina, the Republican senate caucus is responsible for its defeat. Forty-four Democratic senators but only 7 Republicans voted to pass the Natural Gas Act. Thirty-eight Republicans and 9 Democrats voted against it. The defeat of the Pickens Plan largely was the result of conservative ideology, as exemplified by the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal, that opposes any effort to accelerate the substitution of oil with natural gas.
In Pennsylvania, right-winger Senator Toomey voted against the Pickens Plan but Senator Casey voted for it.
Though the Republican senate caucus overwhelmingly voted against the Pickens Plan, many of those members are loudly attacking President Obama for high gasoline prices. Here was a concrete opportunity to fight high gasoline prices and the anti-natural gas 47 senators vote no. Those 47 members really think the American people are fools.
The defeat of the Pickens plan is a blow to the natural gas industry at a time when gas prices are at rock bottom. But more important 47 senators voted to keep America importing huge amounts of foreign oil. Forty-seven senators voted to keep fighting wars for oil. Forty-seven senators voted against the national security and economic interests of America.
This is a big, bad vote. Voters should remember it. For a complete roll call of votes, please see:
www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/roll_call_vote_cfm.cfm?congress=112&session=2&vote=0041. You will have to go to roll call votes on March 13th. Then look for the vote on Amendment 1782 offered by Senator Robert Menendez.