Republicans Warm to Climate Change Legislation

Republic Senator Lindsey Graham teams up with John Kerry, signaling a bipartisan breakthrough on climate change

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Conservatives were quick out of the gate to attack the costs of the climate change bill introduced before the Senate in late September. The Kerry-Boxer bill, an ambitious version of the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill that passed in the House, has put climate change on the Senate agenda, but few expected any progress before the end of 2009. With Democrats divided, the bill requires genuine bipartisan support. That's why Sunday's op-ed by Senators John Kerry and Lindsey Graham, a conservative Republican from South Carolina, represents a breakthrough toward securing Republican endorsement.

Liberals are enthused. Addressing climate change has been a back-burner issue during the health care fight. (Read up on previous debates over the missed deadline, the similarities to health care battles, and debates over designing a pro-growth plan.) But now, green pundits are debating which Republicans will sign on. On the far end of optimism are those who hope that legislation could be ready before the climate summit in Copenhagen in December.

  • Increases the Odds, says Nathan Empsell at MyDD. "Say what you will about bipartisanship, but this is great news. With luck, John McCain and Lamar Alexander will follow suit. Climate change legislation must pass this year - this is the one issue where Jack Bauer's ticking time bomb actually exists. To pass a bill before that bomb goes off, we will need Republican votes - there is no budget reconciliation for the environment, but there are Democratic nay-saters. For every Evan Bayh, we will need a Lindsay Graham."
  • Compromises Were Made, But It Means Copenhagen May Not Be Such a Disappointment, says Steve Benen of the Washington Monthly. "Now, keep in mind, Kerry seems to have accepted quite a few concessions to secure the conservative South Carolinian's support...Time is of the essence. If the basic framework of a deal can be locked down over the next six or seven weeks, the administration won't have to go to Copenhagen empty handed."
  • No Compromises Were Made, says Joe Romm at Climate Progress, an expert's blog on climate change written from a progressive viewpoint. "Again, as I've now been quoted in the media pointing out, oil prices are going to soar in the coming years, likely blowing past $100 a barrel in Obama's first term -- and perhaps past $150 a barrel in what will hopefully be his second term (see "Deutsche Bank: Oil to hit $175 a barrel by 2016)." When that happens, Dems are not going to be able to resist the demand for opening more area to drilling anyway -- so they might as well get a climate deal in return now."
  • The First Republican Down the Slippery Slope, says Michelle Malkin, a longtime opponent of cap-and-trade bills. "GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham has signed on to the Democrats' massive green redistribution scheme masquerading as a planet-saving, national security-enhancing "energy independence" scheme. Can John McCain and the rest of the Climate Change Republicans be far behind?...Kerry and Graham go on to argue that we must buy into their plan because the EPA regulatory power grab will be worse. It's greenmail: Sign on or else the out-of-control bureaucrats (and the unaccountable energy czar Carol Browner, they fail to mention) will make life even more hellish for businesses and taxpayers."
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