Senator Jim Inhofe was on Fox News this morning with Martha McCulloum. He was shocked that Senator Barbara Boxer actually broke a written committee rule to pass a cap and trade bill out of committee yesterday. See video below.
According to Inhofe, who is the ranking committee minority member, a bill should have two minority party (Republican) members present, before a bill can leave committee and be sent to the Senate floor. The Washington Post reported, before Boxer's action, that she was considering using "a simple majority" which would not require the presence of the minority.
I just got off the phone with Matt Dempsey in the Environment and Public Works Committee who confirmed there is a specific "rule" and it is not a matter of simple etiquette. Republicans have the right to boycott a hearing, and they did so. I see nothing in the rules that allows for a "simple majority." In fact, without a quorum, there is no avenue for conducting committee business. From the committee's webpage, here's the rule:
Rule 2. Quorums:
(a) BUSINESS MEETINGS: 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)Democrat Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) is the only Democrat to vote against the bill, and according to Senator Inhofe, Baucus is chair of the Senate Finance Committee and clearly understands that this bill is the largest tax increase on the American people in the history of the country. Inhofe believes the bill is "dead" on arrival.
(d) REPORTING: No measure or matter may be reported to the Senate by the committee unless a majority of committee members cast votes in person.