With the climate bill stalled in the Environment and Public Works Committee, a bipartisan group of senators on Wednesday announced that they're working on an alternative path to passing legislation.
Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.), Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said they are meeting with fellow senators and with administration officials to work out a proposal on climate and energy legislation that they will hand over to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. The proposal will incorporate the components of legislation being crafted within the various committees of jurisdiction, along with work with senators outside those committees.
Kerry emphasized that this process won't replace the work being doneby the Environment and Public Works Committee, where chair Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) is currently trying to work around a Republican boycott of the markup. "We'll take the best of what Sen. Boxer produces and we will build on it," said Kerry. "Our effort is to try to reach out to broaden the base of support beyond the six committees of jurisdiction."
I don't think this announcement is as big a deal as some have suggested. It has always been the case that Reid would have the ultimate authority to combine and tweak a final bill with the goal of garnering 60 votes. And in the weeks since Kerry and Graham coauthored their editorial calling for climate action, it has become clear that there is a separate track of negotiations occurring outside of Boxer's committee, designed to appease senators who want a greater role for nuclear, coal, and domestic oil.