Reid aide walks back Senate Majority Leader’s comment on climate bill timing

Just hours after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) floated the notion that cap-and-trade bill MAY wait till 2010, a top aide unfloated it, as E&E News (subs. req’d) reports today:

Jim Manley, a Reid spokesman, insisted last night that “no decisions have been made” on floor timing for a comprehensive climate and energy bill. “We still intend to deal with health care, [Wall Street regulatory] reform and cap and trade this year,” Manley added in an e-mail.

Again, it’s probably 50–50 at this point with the bill is voted on this year.

The story also has news on the progress Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and John Kerry (D-MA) are making putting together their draft bill:

Boxer and Kerry had originally planned to release a draft cap-and-trade bill last week, but they punted on that schedule to continue negotiations with other senators over unfinished pieces to their proposal.

Yesterday, Kerry, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said he and Boxer still plan to get the draft legislation out by Sept. 30. “We have a mental deadline,” Kerry said. “We are aiming for this month.”

The climate bill authors are “making great progress” as they meet with other senators to map out key features of the bill, Kerry added. “We are going to be working very, very hard, almost every night over the next two weeks,” he said.

Kerry said he plans to hold a markup in the Foreign Relations Committee in October. Boxer said she too remains on schedule for passing the legislation out of her Environment and Public Works Committee next month. “The feeling is that it’s moving in our direction,” she said.

And conservatives remain, well, conservatives:

Sen. Robert Bennett (R-Utah) said he doubts a climate bill can lead to any positive results. “What do we get in terms of actual economic benefit from controlling greenhouse gas emissions?” he asked.

Hmm, other than creating 1.7 million clean energy jobs and not ruining the health and well-being of the next 50 generations — what benefit is there, really? (see “Waxman-Markey clean air, clean water, clean energy jobs bill creates $1.5 trillion in benefits”)