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Obama Optimistic That Senate Can Move Climate Bill

Confronting the skeptics, President Obama over the weekend told reporters that he’s confident the Senate this year can pass ambitious legislation to address the warming planet. From Roll Call (subscription):

“One of the things that we were convinced of was that we could not get the Senate to move aggressively until they saw how the politics aligned in the House,” Obama said in an interview with a small group of reporters in the Oval Office. … “I think now that you’ve seen somebody like a Rick Boucher of Virginia able to enter into very constructive negotiations with a [liberal Democrat like] Henry Waxman of California — that, I think, provides a blueprint for how the Senate can proceed.”

House Democrats squeaked their climate change bill through the lower chamber on Friday, but there remains a great deal of skepticism that the proposal can pass the Senate this year — for several reasons. First, Senate leaders have prioritized sweeping health care reform legislation, a contentious topic that’s almost certain to monopolize most of the summer, and perhaps beyond. With Congress also tasked with taking up the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor for the Supreme Court and passing bills to fund the government, there simply might not be enough time on the legislative calendar to take up yet another controversial bill like the one addressing climate change.

Then there’s the question of whether Senate Democratic leaders would be able to wrangle the 60 votes needed to pass a global warming bill that would actually address the problem of climate change. House leaders have already had to water down their bill considerably to rally the support of industry protectors like Boucher, a coal-country Democrat who hinged his vote on concessions for the coal industry.

Obama seems to think that type of negotiation sets the example for what Senate leaders could do. But at what point do such dilusions negate the purpose of the bill?

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