A quick post-mortem on this week’s vote on the Climate Security Act, which was pulled from the Senate floor on Friday after its sponsors fell short of the 60 votes needed to proceed to final debate. I think I can safely sum it up in one word: progress.

There’s the obvious marker of a majority of the Senate — 54 senators in all — voicing support for moving forward with the bill. Forty-eight voted for cloture, and another six offered written statements of support. Only 36 voted against.

But there’s another important part of progress that’s less obvious, what a colleague of mine calls “clearing the underbrush” — many in Congress don’t focus on the finer details of legislation until it is set for a vote.

In the past few weeks, Senate offices that never before explored the weeds of climate policy took a very deep dive.

The raw numbers bode well for action in the next Congress. But the process itself can’t be overlooked, and we won’t get quick action in 2009 unless senators and members of the House of Representatives continue to dig into the details and figure out what works, what doesn’t, and what it all means for their constituents.

It’s encouraging that the House isn’t waiting: Just this week, Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman John Dingell announced a series of legislative hearings and Rep. Ed Markey introduced a bill that looks to be the most comprehensive proposal yet in the House.

Given that the sponsors of the Climate Security Act plan to bring up the bill next year, the House looks to be moving, and the presumptive nominees of both parties say they plan to act on climate change, a post-mortem may not even be in order, even one as short as this.

Once the dust settles, I’ll be back with a closer look at the Senate vote and what it means for what’s to come.