Senate Lurches Forward on Climate Bill

Eli is a contributing correspondent for Science magazine.

One wonders if it's unlikely that a comprehensive climate deal will happen in Copenhagen—as U.N. Secretary-General Ban-Ki Moon said yesterday—how much china the Democrats are willing to break as they push the Senate to act on climate in time for the meeting. Today, the Senate's climate bill cleared a major hurdle as Democrats on the Environment and Public Works Committee passed the legislation.

The Natural Resources Defense Council believes:

This clears the way for full Senate action on clean energy and climate legislation that will put Americans back to work, reduce our reliance on foreign oil and create a healthier future for our children. Americans are united around these goals. It's time for the full Senate to act.

But Senator Barbara Boxer (D–CA), the committee chair, moved the bill without any Republicans present to offer amendments, potentially further alienating a party she may need to work with over the next month to pass a bill.

The Heritage Foundation says:

Boxer’s actions appear to have violated decades of precedent and despite the “success” of reporting a bill out of committee, the path forward seems very uncertain.

Meanwhile, Finance Committee Chair Senator Max Baucus (D–MT) wants to water down the bill's short-term targets, and some are saying a Senate bill won't happen till 2011. Kerry-Graham-Lieberman is an opening, but will liberals stay on board despite its massive handouts to the nuclear industry? It won't be easy for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D–NV) to get to 60 members to pass a floor vote, let alone the 67 senators he'd need to ratify whatever international agreements negotiators hammer out in Copenhagen or next year.

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