Contrary to reports from many in the media, the prospects for a climate bill are as good as ever now that the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee has finished its work. E&E News makes that clear in a series of interviews with key Senate swing votes,”Senate moderates see an opening now that EPW gridlock is history” (subs. req’d):
Baucus insisted that the bill would cross the finish line, which would require both Senate passage and a successful conference with the House. “There’s no doubt that this Congress is going to pass climate change legislation,” he said. “I don’t know if it’s going to be this year. Probably next year.”
As I had noted last week, while the media was quick to jump over some seemingly negative statements from the Montana Senator, in fact it was clear from his words that Baucus will be voting for the final bill.
While many key moderates made clear they would not vote for the Boxer-Kerry bill that EPW voted out of Committee yesterday, everyone realizes that the process is going to start anew with Graham, Kerry, and Lieberman, who “will be working closely with the White House” to develop a separate bipartisan climate bill that can get 60 votes.
And contrary to some reporting, the EPW process has not undermined prospects for the new bipartisan bill:
Other moderate senators also said they would not reject voting for a climate and energy bill now that it is freed of the EPW Committee’s partisan gridlock.
“I presume that a lot is going to happen before then,” said Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.), the ranking member of the Budget Committee.
“It’s not the end of the process,” added Budget Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.). “That’s just the beginning of the process. So there’s lots of time and lots of opportunity for everybody to engage.”
So Boxer delivered on her promise back in early February, as Greenwire reported (see “Breaking: Sen. Boxer makes clear U.S. won’t pass a climate bill this year“):
“Copenhagen is December,” Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) told reporters. “That’s why I said we’ll have a bill out of this committee by then.”
Ideally, Kerry and Graham and Leiberman and the White House will flesh out the key details of the new bill by Copenhagen, ultimately leading to a successful Senate floor vote in February, and a bill on the president’s desk sometime in April.