The long-stalled climate change legislation appears to be closer to moving back into the public eye, after months of behind-the-scenes negotiations between its three chief architects in the Senate, Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.), Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).
The senators announced this week that they hope to unveil their climate change bill some time within the next two weeks.
The bill will face an uphill battle. Ten senators from heavy manufacturing or coal-producing states sent a letter to Kerry, Lieberman and Graham April 15 outlining what they consider “essential” provisions to win their support.
Essentially, they want language to help domestic manufacturers, including allowance rebates for energy-intensive industries and federal pre-emption of state climate laws. Among those who signed on to the letter were Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Debbie Stabenow from Michigan (D-Mich.), Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and Arlen Specter (D-Pa.). Without the support of at least some of these lawmakers, the bill could be in trouble before it is even introduced.
Moreover, Sens. Kerry, Lieberman and Graham have suggested that they might unveil the bill without formally introducing it, giving Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) control to bring the legislation up to the floor after several key committees take a look at it and make revisions they think necessary.
This would circumvent the usual process in which a bill is introduced then referred, and passed out of committees with jurisdiction. Some lawmakers, including Democrats like Maria Cantwell (Wash.), have cried foul, saying that lawmakers should have the opportunity to mark the bill up through the usual committee review process.
With President Obama focused on passing financial overhaul legislation in the Senate as well as finding a Supreme Court nominee to replace retiring Justice John Paul Stevens, it appears unlikely that the Senate will be able to make significant progress on a climate change bill anytime soon. Stay tuned….