Dem Senators Call For Vote on Climate Legislation

22 Democratic Senators sent a letter to Harry Reid, authored by Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM), asking for a floor vote on a climate bill this year. And what’s interesting about this is not just the existence of such a letter, but who signed it.

Tom Udall (N.M.), Jeanne Shaheen (N.H.), Michael Bennet (Colo.), Kay Hagan (N.C.), Ron Wyden (Ore.), Mark Begich (Alaska), Sherrod Brown (Ohio), Tom Harkin (Iowa), Tom Carper (Del.), Mark Udall (Colo.), Al Franken (Minn.), Debbie Stabenow (Mich.), Jeff Merkley (Ore.), Patty Murray (Wash.), Ted Kaufman (Del.), Ronald Burris (Ill.), Bob Casey Jr. (Pa.), Mark Warner (Va.), Maria Cantwell (Wash.), Arlen Specter (Pa.), Jon Tester (Mont.), Amy Klobuchar (Minn.)

As Dave Roberts notes, this coalition includes “several crucial moderates and fence-sitters, including Casey, Begich, Tester, Stabenow, and Cantwell. This is a positive sign that, divisions aside, real appetite remains in the Democratic caucus for tackling this issue.”

However, that appetite is not universal. Udall’s New Mexico colleague Jeff Bingaman, for example, would rather the Senate pass his weak energy bill and be done with it.

But at the same time, Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman and Democratic Policy Committee chair Byron Dorgan have been fiercely lobbying Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to take up the energy-only bill approved by the energy committee last June. The two met with Reid last week to argue for their legislation, which includes no cap on greenhouse gas emissions.

On Monday, Reid said no decisions have been on how to move forward.

“I’ve got lots of options on energy and I’m going to try to work it through with Bingaman and Kerry,” said Reid.

Obviously, there won’t be much support from Republicans on this (though Lindsey Graham appears to be hanging on at the moment), so figuring out the Bingaman/Kerry rift is crucial. But my guess is that any compromise would include Bingaman’s bill passed out of the Senate Natural Resources Committee last year and the Kerry-Graham-Lieberman staggered cap on carbon, along with a pre-emption of the EPA and state efforts to regulate greenhouse gases, resulting in something hardly worth passing.

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