Senate Democrats Pretend to Filibuster, Hope Donors Notice

Weigel
Reporting on Politics and Policy.
March 11 2014 9:25 AM

Senate Democrats Pretend to Filibuster, Hope Donors Notice

Last night's #Up4Climate speech-a-thon, in which Democrats used witching-hour floor time to talk about the need for action on environmental law, was a uniquely Washingtonian combo of inspiration and cynicism. Absolutely, most Senate Democrats want to pass a climate bill, and absolutely, they fumbled the chance away in 2010 when they failed to come up with a companion to the House's cap-and-trade bill that could survive a filibuster.

But the origins of last night's protest, as Ed O'Keefe reported, were at a fundraiser with Tom Steyer. The billionaire is planning to spend $100 million in 2014 to cancel out the damage of Republican-backing ads, and needs to be convinced not to spend it against vulnerable Democrats like Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu.* (She appeared on a who-to-target-next quiz on Steyer's site. So far, she has not been targeted in the way Arkansas Sen. Mark Pryor was over gun control.)

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The protest also boosted Hawaii Sen. Brian Schatz, who was appointed to the state's open Senate seat in a bit of a surprise (Hawaii hadn't sent a white male to the Senate ... well, ever), immediately drawing a primary challenge. Schatz has created a reputation from nothing, taking point on climate and money-in-politics issues, courting progressives at events like the annual Netroots Nation conference.

So: no climate bill. But a nice shine on the reputations of some Senate Democrats.

*Correction, March 11, 2014: This post originally misstated that Tom Steyer plans to spend $100 billion in 2014 to help Democratic congressional candidates.

David Weigel is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

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