We Need To Send One Strategic Thinker To Washington, Just One
I actually don't buy this for a second:
Environmentalists hope the push in Congress for climate change legislation is not overwhelmed by the debate dominating Capitol Hill over changing the U.S. healthcare system. But it might be.
Already two months behind schedule and unsure whether enough Democrats will play along, Senate leaders still aim to pass a bill by December when a United Nations summit convenes in Copenhagen to set worldwide goals for reducing carbon dioxide and other pollutants.
But as the debate over healthcare legislation rages and with President Barack Obama due to address a joint session of Congress on Wednesday to try to rescue the faltering plan, it was unclear whether rattled lawmakers will have the time -- or the inclination -- to take on climate change.
It's inclination, not time. The primacy of the health care debate is the best thing to ever happen to the climate change bill. It can slink around in the weeds, and Barbara Boxer can go to work on it and spring it on Congress before the teabaggers have time to react. It's already passed the House, so a quick strike in the Senate - even if it's a bad bill without a cap and trade plan - shouldn't be too difficult while everyone's head is turned. Because health care has taken center stage, the climate bill is popular at this point. The Democrats could markup on Wednesday and pass by Friday if they really wanted to do so. It would be the perfect way to bring the hammer down on Republicans for elongating the health care debate.
But I don't expect that to happen. Because too many Democrats want no part of a climate bill. The concessions made in the House should be enough to satisfy the Senate, but people like Ag Committee Chair Tom Harkin want to put their thumbprint on it as well. And there's no Progressive Block to get in the way of the endless concessions.
A strategic White House would have told Harry Reid today to schedule the climate bill for Thursday. It would have messed with everyone's head. But we have no strategic thinking on Capitol Hill, and these are the results.