Just minutes before an explosive vote on whether climate change is real, Republicans received a surprising message from Sen. James Inhofe.
The Oklahoma Republican, derided by the left as Congress’s leading “denier” of climate science, had decided the night before, while huddled in his office with staffers, that he would support an amendment from Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) stating, “climate change is real and not a hoax.”
The result of the unlikely Inhofe-Whitehouse pairing was an overwhelming 98-1 Senate vote endorsing the view that climate change is “not a hoax,” foiling the first attempt by Democrats to portray the Republican Party as anti-science ahead of the 2016 presidential elections.
Later that day, Republicans blocked two amendments stating that human beings contribute to climate change, giving ammunition to Democrats who say the GOP is standing in the way of efforts to reduce carbon emissions and halt the warming of the planet.
But it was the first vote of the day that became the talk of Washington.
“Democrats are going to continue to play games with them until they are unified in approach. Sen. Schatz and others were trying to see how many different ways to chip away at the GOP position,” said Ford O’Connell, a Republican strategist.
“Democrats are trolling Republicans extremely hard on this issue.”
By voting for Whitehouse’s amendment, O’Connell added, “Republicans were making sure they don’t handcuff a 2016 GOP nominee.”