Democratic Senators will discuss the prospects for climate and energy legislation at today's caucus lunch, a topic that was also on the agenda during last week's meeting, which ended before lawmakers could actually debate policy. Today's sessions is expected to provide guidance for what a package of energy and oil-spill related measures might look like. Majority Leader Harry Reid has said he expects to begin debate on the legislation after the July 4 recess.
Ahead of the meeting, 64 state and national environmental groups issued a joint statement to senators calling for the bill to include a cap on carbon dioxide, which remains one of the biggest questions on the package:
Thursday's caucus meeting will be a milestone in the effort to transition America to clean energy and finally address the dangers of carbon pollution. We expect our environmental allies – and all Senators who want to cut America's addiction to imported oil, create jobs, and reduce pollution – to speak out strongly for a truly comprehensive clean energy and climate bill.
With millions of gallons spilled in the Gulf of Mexico and a billion dollars a day going overseas for imported oil, we can no longer afford to delay our transition to clean energy. As President Obama told the nation last Tuesday night, "For decades we have failed to act with the sense of urgency that this challenge requires" and we must not "settle for the paltry limits of conventional wisdom." The time has come to act.
The League of Conservation Voters, Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Sierra Club, and VoteVets.org Action Fund also announced an $11 million campaign on Thursday to push for comprehensive climate and energy action. The ads will start running next week, targeting key senators from both parties, the groups said.
The caucus meeting is supposed to end around 2 p.m.; I'll have more after that.