Kerry, Graham, Lieberman announce a "dual track" on the climate bill
By David A. Fahrenthold
Even before a Senate committee could begin marking up the "Kerry-Boxer" climate bill, Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) himself announced a new "track" of negotiations over climate policy that makes his original bill look somewhat irrelevant.
Kerry, appearing at the U.S. Capitol with Sens. Lindsay O. Graham (R-S.C.) and Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.), said the three legislators would work with business groups and the White House to forge a compromise climate measure that could get 60 votes in the Senate.
These negotiations would be separate from the work that six different Senate committees are doing on climate legislation, including the markup that the Environment and Public Works committee was supposed to begin Tuesday, the senators said. Republican committee members, demanding more Environmental Protection Agency analysis of the bill's impacts, are boycotting that markup, so progress on the legislation has stalled.
Kerry said that the senators were not circumventing that committee's process or ignoring the bill being marked up -- which bears his name, along with that of Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.). "We're going to take the best [of the bill the committee produces], and we're going to build on it," he said.
Kerry gave few details about when he and the other senators would be done with their work. "When and how it becomes a piece of legislation will be determined by Harry Reid," he said.
The idea that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) would meld the various climate proposals into a single bill is not a new one: with six committees working on related bills, Democrats have long said that someone would have to stitch them all together. But Wednesday's announcement was an early, and stark, signal that the committee bills would not be the only things shaping the final product.
Kerry, Graham and Lieberman offered few details about the elements of a climate bill they considered non-negotiable. Graham said that 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 if 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."
Web Politics Editor
November 4, 2009; 3:27 PM ET
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