The U.S. Senate has wrapped up business until the November elections – finally passing in the middle of the night a stopgap bill that funds the government for another six months and a bill that will exempt U.S. airlines from participating in the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme.
The continuing resolution passed 62-30 will fund the government at a rate of $1.047 trillion; President Obama is expected to sign the measure.
The emissions bill suffered multiple holds in the Senate, but was eventually passed by unanimous consent after some modifications. Because the bill was modified from the House of Representatives version, and the lower chamber already adjourned when the Senate passed its bill, the bill will not be going to President Obama’s desk until after the November elections at the earliest.
The modifications to the bill are designed to satisfy two Democratic lawmakers’ concerns. One (http://bit.ly/RMxnVi) by Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) adds language to shield U.S. taxpayers from any monetary liability for airlines' failure to pay. The second (http://bit.ly/PXemdp ) by Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) adds language allowing the bill's effects to be nullified if the EU changes its scheme, if the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) takes some related action, or if the United States issues a related rule or law on aircraft emissions.
Passage of the EU emissions bill now ramps up pressure on ICAO to develop a global agreement on aviation climate pollution.