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Senate Will Have to Deal With the Max (Baucus) Factor on Climate, Too

Looks like Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) is looking to make a serious grab on climate policy. That is, if he ever gets around to it.

The powerful chairman of the Senate Finance Committee reportedly wants to author the allocations portion of a cap-and-trade policy, but so far he’s been wrapped up in health care policy. His committee has held just one hearing on climate policy so far this year, one that Baucus did not attend due to commitments on health care. And while he wants to stake a claim on climate policy, he’s made it clear that he won’t get to it until after health care. “We’ve got health care. It’s going to take up most of the month. It’s going to be difficult to also do [climate],” he told reporters.

The real question is how much leeway Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) will give him. Reid originally set a Sept. 18 deadline for committee work on the climate bill, which he pushed back to Sept. 28. But now Barbara Boxer, chair of the Environment and Public Works Committee that has jurisdiction over the majority of climate policy, has said she won’t have her bill ready to be introduced until “later in September.”

Boxer has said that she intends to present and pass a comprehensive bill – with the allocations portion included – out of her committee, and let Baucus author his own if he so chooses. She told reporters in August that her staff is not working with Baucus’ to craft the allocations portion.

“I welcome all the committees to write whatever parts of the bill they feel they have jurisdiction over,” Boxer said in August. “I am happy to see all the committees getting involved. And then Harry Reid is going to take all the bills.”

There has been no official word yet from Reid on whether there will be a new deadline for committee work that Boxer and Baucus, and up to four other committees that have some jurisdiction, will be expected to meet. Reid’s office has only put out an official statement thus far acknowledging the delay in EPW and arguing that Reid still “fully expects the Senate to have ample time to consider this comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation before the end of the year.”

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