Climate Bill Steps Forward, For Now

Democrats and moderate Republicans fight to save the climate change bill, but the outlook isn't good

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The uphill battle to pass a comprehensive climate change bill has passed a milestone. On Thursday morning, Senate Democrats on a key environmental committee ignored a Republican boycott to pass the bill, which would set limits on carbon dioxide emissions. But the committee doesn't have the final say, and the bill still has to be approved by the entire Senate.

What happens next? Commentators say committee chair Sen. Barbara Boxer's legislation is likely to be rewritten by a bipartisan group of three Senators in the hopes of making a more moderate bill. Pundits weigh in on what the increasingly bitter partisan fight in Congress means for the climate change bill.

  • Democrats Could Go It Alone on Climate Change  At Politico, Lisa Lerer says "legislation can be approved by the committee with a simple majority of members, an exception Boxer could use to pass her bill. Boxer is also the final judge on any dispute over committee rules, a fact that would allow her to override any GOP objection to her process."
  • The GOP Loses on Climate Change  Aaron Wiener of The Washington Independent says "the end result is that the legislation will now be molded by other committees and the Senate leadership, without input from Inhofe and his Republican EPW colleagues."
  • Climate Change Bill Doomed Without GOP Support  At The Foundry, Dan Holler says the Democrats look desperate. "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."
  • What The Final Bill Could Look Like  In the Washington Post, David Fahrenthhold says John Kerry, Lindsey Graham, and Joe Lieberman will likely "stitch" the various bills from the committees together to draft the final bill. Fahrenthold probes the Senators for details about what such legislation might look like.
"The three senators offered few details about the elements they considered nonnegotiable: Graham said the bill should protect the climate but also allow for more offshore drilling, an expansion of nuclear energy and an emphasis on 'clean coal' technology. Asked whether the group was committed to a 'cap and trade' scheme, like the one used to reduce pollution in a bill passed by the House, Lieberman said yes, but noted that the scheme had 'a lot of moving parts you could negotiate on.'"
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.