Posts tagged ‘John Kerry’

Climate bill abruptly put on hold

Reporting from Washington

Two of President Obama’s top domestic policy initiatives — energy and immigration — appeared on the brink of collapse on Saturday after a Republican senator at the center of both efforts threatened to jump ship in a dispute with Democrats over timing.

Sens. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) said Saturday afternoon that they would postpone the introduction of their long-anticipated energy and climate bill, which they had planned to roll out on Monday. The announcement came after their third partner, Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, abruptly pulled out of the effort — at least temporarily.

Graham was irate that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) unexpectedly told fellow Democrats this week that he planned to move an immigration bill in the Senate before the climate bill, an action widely seen as a nod to Latino voters who could make or break Reid’s reelection bid, and which Graham said would cripple the energy bill’s chances.

In a scathing letter on Saturday, Graham blasted Reid and the Obama administration for putting “partisan, political objectives” ahead of the energy bill, and he warned that “moving forward on immigration — in this hurried, panicked manner — is nothing more than a cynical political ploy.”

Graham said he would reengage on the energy bill if Reid backed off his plan to move immigration first. Reid did not directly commit either way, issuing a statement saying immigration and energy “are equally vital to our economic and national security.”

Losing Graham’s support could effectively doom both issues this year. Along with months of work with Kerry and Lieberman on the climate bill, Graham has joined with Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) to draft an immigration bill.

Republican votes are essential to pass either measure, and Graham was seen as the White House’s beachhead in a GOP caucus that has widely opposed Obama’s initiatives.

The Senate calendar is already strained in the wake of the marathon healthcare debate. With midterm elections looming, few analysts expect the Senate to accomplish much after July.

Once a climate bill was introduced, its drafters had planned to send it to the Congressional Budget Office and the Environmental Protection Agency to model its effects on the federal budget, the economy and the environment — a process that was expected to last more than a month. Only after those analyses came back could a bill move toward a vote.

Schumer and Graham do not appear close to producing an immigration bill or lining up the votes for one. But Kerry, Graham and Lieberman had scheduled a morning news conference Monday to announce their plans to limit greenhouse gas emissions and spur domestic energy production. A host of environmental and business leaders were set to fly in to Washington to appear with them.

Kerry postponed the announcement in a news release, saying he and Lieberman “deeply regret that [Graham] feels immigration politics have gotten in the way and for now prevent him from being engaged in the way he intended…. Joe and I will continue to work together and are hopeful that Lindsey will rejoin us once the politics of immigration are resolved.”

The White House appealed for calm, with Obama’s top climate advisor, Carol Browner, saying Obama still supports a bipartisan push on both immigration and energy.

“We have an historic opportunity” on climate, Browner said, adding: “We’re determined to see it happen this year, and we encourage the Senators to continue their important work on behalf of the country and not walk away from the progress that’s already been made.”

Close observers of the climate negotiations were stunned.

“This is a bizarre and crazy implosion,” said Frank Maisano, an energy lobbyist for Bracewell and Giuliani in Washington. “It certainly leaves the process in disarray at a time when we thought they were about ready to move to the next level.”

Opponents of the bill were giddy. Patrick Creighton, a spokesman for the free-market Institute for Energy Research, said: “Chalk this up as a win for the American people.”

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April 26, 2010 at 9:31 AM Leave a comment

Climate change bill is in trouble-Political tactics tie up the Senate version, and efforts to salvage it may be too little too late.

If you think the partisan divide over healthcare reform is ugly, take a look at the animus in the Senate as debate continues on a key climate change bill. So wide is the gulf that long-held Senate traditions on decorum are breaking down. And as Washington fiddles, the Earth burns.

The Senate version of a House bill aimed at capping greenhouse gas emissions was stalled last week by Republicans on the Environment and Public Works Committee, who boycotted the discussion, demanding that the Environmental Protection Agency agree to do a more thorough study of the bill’s economic impact. It was an ugly and highly unusual tactic aimed at delaying a bill that has already been thoroughly vetted by the EPA, leaving Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), the committee chair, little choice but to resort to extremes herself. She put the bill, S. 1733, up for a vote Thursday without a single Republican present. That angered Republicans but was even more frustrating for Democrats — several wanted to amend the bill, but with no one from the minority party present, no amendments were allowed. The bill passed, 11-1.

Full Story HERE

November 13, 2009 at 2:18 PM Leave a comment

Kerry’s green side takes center stage

John F. Kerry is known for his expertise on matters of war and foreign policy, and for his failed 2004 presidential bid.

But when he arrives in Copenhagen next month for international climate talks, the world will see a less familiar but perhaps more ardent side of the Massachusetts senator: the green Kerry.

After a quarter century in Washington, Kerry is emerging as a critical environmental dealmaker. He is leading the US Senate delegation that will try to broker a worldwide climate change agreement and is chief sponsor of a massive global warming bill in the Senate, a measure that was all but buried until Kerry forged an unlikely partnership with Republican Lindsey O. Graham of South Carolina last month.

Now, with virtually no chance of getting climate legislation through Congress before the end of the year, Kerry is still hoping to make enough progress toward a bipartisan deal to demonstrate to China, India, and other major greenhouse gas producers that the United States is serious about lowering emissions that are heating the Earth.

The challenge is enormous. Even if Kerry manages to find some consensus among Senate Democrats and Republicans in Washington before he goes, the task of setting binding emissions targets for industrialized and developing countries is unlikely to be achieved next month in Copenhagen. But the senator remains hopeful.

“What we have to do is listen to people, work with people, and fight very, very hard to get this job done,’’ Kerry said in a recent interview with the Globe. “It is not going to be easy, but every day we are moving the ball forward.’’

Though Kerry doesn’t have a strong track record as a conciliator in Congress, his biography can only help him, say his supporters. A bit of a wonk on climate science, he has been attending United Nations global warming summits since they began in Brazil in 1992. And he’s respected in diplomatic circles, as shown by his involvement in resolving the election crisis in Afghanistan last month.

“There is no one better positioned in the world than Senator Kerry’’ to get an international climate deal, said Robert Stavins, director of Harvard University’s Environmental Economics Program and an authority on international climate policy. “He has had an interest in these issues a long time. He is coauthor of the climate legislation. He is chair of the Foreign Relations Committee.’’

Full Story Here

November 13, 2009 at 2:12 PM Leave a comment

Can Senate trio salvage a climate bill?

A Senate Democrat, Republican and independent on Wednesday announced a rescue effort for troubled climate legislation and quickly got some backing from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce as well as at least one environmental group.

Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., together with Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Sen. Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn., met with Obama administration officials and later announced that they would work to patch together a bill that could pass the Senate.

Can these three revive the Climate Bill?

An earlier bill introduced by Kerry and Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., that would impose mandatory limits on heat-trapping gases for the first time is stalled in committee because of a Republican boycott.

The senators said that they were not usurping that effort, but would take the best pieces of the Kerry-Boxer bill and try to broaden support by adding more incentives for nuclear power and offshore drilling. They also said they had the blessing of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

“Our effort is to try to reach out; to broaden the base of support” for a bill, said Kerry.

More for nuclear, offshore drilling
Besides looking at creating a market for companies to trade an ever-decreasing number of carbon pollution permits, the senators are working with the White House on ways to expand the nuclear power industry through government incentives.

For full story click HERE

November 6, 2009 at 11:03 AM Leave a comment


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