The Senate rejected a plan Thursday to curb global warming, but both supporters and opponents of the measure said they were happy about the results of the chamber's first vote on the issue in more than six years.
Senators voted 55-43 to defeat a bill co-sponsored by Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., that would reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases from industrial smokestacks.
Florida Democratic Sens. Bob Graham and Bill Nelson both voted in favor of the bill.
The vote capped a polarized, two-day debate the two senators saw as the opening shot in a lengthy effort to get Congress to address global warming. The last time the Senate voted on the issue was in July 1997, in a 95-0 vote to reject many of the principles behind an international climate treaty negotiated five months later in Kyoto, Japan.
"I'm encouraged by 43 votes," said McCain, the Senate Commerce Committee chairman. He called the bill "a very minimal proposal that should be a first step" in addressing climate change, and likened the fight to his struggle for the nation's new campaign finance law.
Proponents said global warming is a real phenomenon, and tackling it head-on will help the economy in the long run. But the White House and Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., the bill's biggest opponent, said the measure would eliminate jobs and drive up electricity prices.
"The science underlying this bill has been repudiated, the economic costs are far too high, and the environmental benefits arenonexistent," Inhofe said.
The bill would have required industrial plants _ but not auto manufacturers _ to cut pollution from burning fossil fuels to 2000 levels by 2010.
It would have done that by requiring a nationwide cap on industrial emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases that many scientists say are causing the Earth to warm up.