Although a key Senate committee has cleared a sweeping climate-change bill, the measure faces a difficult road ahead. The Environment and Public Works Committee on Nov. 5 approved a measure, introduced by John Kerry (D-Mass.) and panel Chair Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), by a 11-1 tally, with Republicans boycotting the vote. But a small group of lawmakers, including Kerry, is working behind the scenes to craft a more moderate bill that could garner bipartisan support. Some industry sources say that proposal may have better odds of clearing the full Senate. Still, with Congress focused on health-care reform and other fiscal issues, prospects for passing any bill by January are dim.
“It will be a tall order to get it done this year,” says Steve Hall, the American Council of Engineering Companies’ vice president for government affairs. But, Hall adds, observers are looking closely at efforts of Kerry and his colleagues Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) on a bill aimed at winning support of moderates like Max Baucus (Mont.), the lone Democrat to oppose the Kerry-Boxer plan in the Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee.