This morning I identified five things that could affect the ultimate fate of the climate/energy bill in Congress. Some comments from Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) this morning add a bit of a twist to the proceedings.
On MSNBC this morning, Schumer said that Reid is likely to advance an energy bill modeled on the one that passed through Sen. Jeff Bingaman’s (D-N.M.) Energy Committee last year. (It’s called ACELA, and it sucks.) What about the Kerry-Lieberman bill, which unlike Bingaman’s contains a cap on carbon? “Kerry has a proposal that has pretty broad support,” Schumer said. “He’s going, in my opinion, going to get a chance to offer it in the form of an amendment.”
Aw, isn’t that sweet.
Let’s be clear here: If there’s an energy-only bill on the floor and a cap-and-trade system is offered as an amendment, the amendment will fail. That is as close to a certainty as you get in D.C. The whole reason the energy and climate portions of the bill were packaged together in the first place is to force lawmakers to accept the stick (cap) with the carrots (incentives for nukes, etc.). If they’re allowed the opportunity to take all the good stuff with none of the bad stuff, of course they’ll take it.
The question here is whether Schumer is speaking for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) or just freelancing. He’s never been a fan of the climate bill and said some things to undermine it when it rolled out back in April. Maybe he’s just being a jerk again.
Anyway, if this is how the bill plays out, the cap on carbon is toast.
UPDATE: Looks like Schumer got taken to the woodshed! National Journal reports that he will be meeting with Kerry later this week to “discuss a broader bill.” Schumer’s spox also issued this clarification:
“To the senator’s knowledge, no decisions have been made yet on the floor strategy for legislation addressing the nation’s urgent energy challenges, nor is it his decision to make,” Schumer spokesman Brian Fallon said in an e-mail.
Schumer, he said, “speculated on one procedural option, but make no mistake: He believes climate change legislation is vital to our nation’s energy security and looks forward to voting for it.”
So there you have it — looks like Schumer was talking out of turn. Though of course what he said is just what lots of folks have been thinking for a while now. But I guess Dem leadership doesn’t want to say it publicly yet.