Following 403-12 passage by the House of Representatives on May 24th, Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), chair of the Environment and Public Works Committee, sought a May 26th Senate vote on H.R. 2576 under the fast-track unanimous consent procedure. Inhofe’s motion would have allowed up to three hours of debate and a roll call vote on the House-passed bill without amendment, so long as no Senator objects.
During the Senator’s explanation of the motion on the Senate Floor, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) moved to block the floor vote and explained his reasoning. His block currently prevents the Senate from voting on the bill until he removes it(the unanimous consent procedure allows a bill to be passed without amendment unless a single Senator objects). Senator Paul’s concerns include the bill's preemption and criminal enforcement provisions. Click here to listen to the exchange between Senators Vitter, Inhofe, and Paul.
The Senate adjourned on May 26th without Sen. Paul removing the block, and the Senate is out of session the week of May 31st – June 3rd. It is unclear when the block will be removed after the Senate resumes legislative business on Monday, June 6th. In a recent interview, Sen. Paul stated that he would be speaking on the issue next week when Congress returns to session.
One possibility would allow supporters of the bill to file a cloture motion the week of June 13th if no progress is made before that time. Cloture — a process unique to the Senate to limit minority holds on legislation — is more popularly known as the only weapon against a filibuster. It could be invoked successfully to move the bill for a vote if three-fifths or 60 Senators support the motion. For more information on the cloture procedure, follow this link.