The Senate debate on climate change will be delayed until later this fall, given that two key players have said they will not even introduce their bill until late September.
Senate Environment and Public Works Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Senate Foreign Relations Chairman John Kerry (D-Mass.) said they would not introduce their legislation next week as they had planned. They attributed the delay to last week’s death of Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) and the timing of the health care debate, which continues to rage on.
“The Kerry-Boxer bill is moving along well and we are looking forward to introducing legislation that will create millions of clean energy jobs, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, and ensure American leadership in the clean energy economy,” the two wrote in a statement. “Because of Senator Kennedy’s recent passing, Senator Kerry’s August hip surgery, and the intensive work on health care legislation particularly on the Finance Committee where Sen. Kerry serves, Majority Leader Reid has agreed to provide some additional time to work on the final details of our bill, and to reach out to colleagues and important stakeholders. We have told the Majority Leader that our goal is to introduce our bill later in September.”
Jim Manley, spokesman for Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), said Monday that his boss “fully expects the Senate to have ample time to consider this comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation before the end of the year.”
It was not immediately clear whether Reid has given Boxer and Kerry a firm deadline for a climate change bill. Reid originally told the leaders of six Senate panels with jurisdiction over the issue that they had until Sept. 18 to report their bills out of committee. In July, Reid moved that deadline to Sept. 28.
Manley said Reid hopes Boxer and Kerry can complete their work “as soon as possible.”
Still, the Senate is likely to be consumed with the health care debate when Members return from the August recess on Tuesday, a distraction to which Boxer and Kerry alluded. Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) has said he will move forward with his long-stalled health care bill by Sept. 15 if the bipartisan negotiations he has been conducting do not produce a deal. President Barack Obama has asked the House and Senate to deliver him a bill by Oct. 15