Climate bill not likely to come up this year


The bipartisan climate bill to be unveiled Monday isn’t dead on arrival but it’s not likely to be taken up this year — and not before an immigration bill comes to the Senate floor, according to Democratic aides.

As staffers for Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.), Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) prepared for a long weekend hammering out a compromise bill in time for Monday’s unveiling, leadership aides not involved in its drafting cautioned against its prospects of quick consideration before this year’s midterms.

“It’s not fair to say it’s dead, but it’s on the back burner… It could happen this year, but at this point it’s not likely,” said a senior Democratic aide familiar with Reid’s thinking.

It’s “unlikely” to be considered this year, said another.

On Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) told House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) he planned to prioritize immigration reform, speaking during the biweekly meeting of the top four Democrats in each chamber, according to people briefed on his comments.

Pelosi expressed no objection — in part, because the House has already passed its own sweeping energy and climate change legislation.

Kerry, who has resuscitated the legislation from several near-death encounters, shrugged off the news. He vowed to plow ahead with a measure that would attract bipartisan backing – and the support of industry and environmental groups.

“There are always people who think it’s impossible to tackle big challenges in an election year, but Senators Kerry, Graham, and Lieberman have been working overtime to produce an approach that can succeed,” Kerry spokeswoman Whitney Smith said.

“The Majority Leader reiterated yesterday to them that he is committed to make this the year bi-partisan, comprehensive climate and energy reform passes the Senate and Senator Kerry knows the Leader is tough and determined enough to make it happen.”

For Reid, prioritizing immigration reform has moral, personal and, not least, political implications.

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