Planet Gore

Has Obamacare Killed the Obama Energy Tax?

Politico:

With the fight over health care reform absorbing all the bandwidth on Capitol Hill, Democrats fear a major climate change bill may be left on the cutting-room floor this year. 
A handful of key senators on climate change are almost guaranteed to be tied up well into the fall on health care. Democrats from the Midwest and the South are resistant to a cap-and-trade proposal. And few if any Republicans are jumping in to help push a global warming and energy initiative. 
As a result, many Democrats fear the lack of political will and the congressional calendar will conspire to punt climate change into next year. 
“The reality is [the health reform bill] is going to happen before cap and trade,” said House Agriculture Committee Chairman Rep. Collin Peterson, who’s been working with farm-state senators on the climate legislation. “Who knows if it will ever come out of the Senate?” 
Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.), a senior member of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee and chairman of the Democratic Policy Committee, has also publicly questioned efforts to move a Senate climate change bill this year. 
“It’s very hard for the United States Congress to wrap itself around one very large, significant, very controversial issue, and we’re being asked to do that in the midst of a very deep recession,” he told POLITICO last week. 
But not every Democrat has so little confidence in his or her colleagues. 
“Everything is hard, everything is slow,” said West Virginia Democratic Sen. John Rockefeller, chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee. “My answer to that is let’s do what we always did with [former Senate Majority Leader] George Mitchell and stay until Dec. 22. We did that every year he was majority leader.” 
Democrats also have a diplomatic reason to make a push in the Senate: They’d like to pass legislation before the Copenhagen international climate negotiations in December. Unless the U.S. takes public steps to lower its greenhouse gas emissions, it will be hard to persuade China, India and other developing countries to make significant reductions, according to international climate change experts.
If Democrats fail to pass a bill this year, it won’t get any easier during an election cycle next year, when Democrats will be even more afraid of taking unpopular votes. 
Environment and Public Works Committee Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) aims to release her cap-and-trade legislation when Congress returns from recess in September. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has asked her committee, along with five other powerful panels — Agriculture, Commerce, Energy and Natural Resources, Finance and Foreign Relations — to complete work on the bill by Sept. 28. Reid will then piece together the larger legislation. 
“All my committee chairs agreed with that,” Reid told reporters on a conference call. “It’s a date that’s doable. We can’t let that slip.” 
But moving the legislation to the full Senate will pose a tougher problem than the committee deadlines.
“If we come together and get a [health care] bill that doesn’t make everyone upset and angry, then I think we have a good shot on moving forward,” said Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.). “Time’s not the issue — it’s just hard stuff’s hard.” 

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