I can’t imagine anyone believing we would see 60 Senate votes this year for an unwatered-down climate bill.
The center-right folk want big compromises, like a
poison pill safety valve (see below). But Sen. Boxer (D-CA) has little motivation to gut her legislation, since next year will probably bring more Senate Democrats and definitely bring a president who wants to take action, rather than one who has done everything in his power to block action and destroy the climate.
E&E News has a good article on this titled, “Lieberman-Warner floor strategy bothers some Senate swing votes” (regs. reqd):
Several senators holding critical swing votes on global warming legislation say they are disappointed with Democratic leadership’s plan to pull the bill from the floor if any “weakening” amendments are added to the bill.
“That doesn’t sound like a very encouraging way to start,” said Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska).
Murkowksi cosponsors a cap-and-trade proposal with Sens. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) and Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) that takes a less aggressive stance on curbing heat-trapping emissions compared with the climate legislation due on the floor this June from Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and John Warner (R-Va.).
Among other things, Murkowski favors a “safety valve” provision in the Bingaman-Specter bill that places a price ceiling on the costs to industry for its carbon dioxide prices. “I think there’s some components in Bingaman-Specter that I’d like to see in Warner-Lieberman, and if they consider that ‘weakening,’ that’s going to make it tough,” Murkowski said.
On Wednesday, Senate Environment and Public Works Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) outlined a floor strategy for the Lieberman-Warner bill “leveraged” by the prospects of a more friendly president and Congress in 2009. Boxer pledged to push for Senate passage this year, but she also gave an ultimatum if the bill was changed against her wishes.
“I’ll know it when I see it on the floor,” she told reporters when asked what qualifies as a “weakening” amendment.
A safety valve should be a deal-breaker. Then, of course, there is nuclear power:
Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) voted against the Lieberman-Warner bill at the end of a December markup in the EPW Committee. But he also sent signals that he would be interested in supporting the measure if it included a significant nuclear title that created new rules on loan guarantees and improved confidence in waste storage.
In an interview yesterday, Isakson said he planned to offer a number of floor amendments that promote the expansion of new nuclear power plants — something Boxer no doubt opposes. “Nuclear is a strengthening amendment, not a weakening amendment,” Isakson said.
Maybe yes, maybe no. When Sen. McCain (R-AZ) squeezed nuclear into his climate bill, he lost 5 votes.
E&E News has an interesting breakdown of the likely votes in the Senate. Let me start with the fence sitters: