You know, when it comes to the climate change bill and the prospects for action this year, I'm getting a headache. The constant mid-stream switches in the "is you is or is you ain't" plan for the release of the bill are almost dizzying. First Waxman-Markey passes the House of Representatives, and the Senate looks like it's ready to launch out the gate.
Then, there's a delay.
Senators Graham, Kerry, and Lieberman, sensing that they're losing momentum at a time that probably represents the last, best hope for level-headed folks to get together and pass a bill, start a tri-partisan effort at crafting a bill that will get 60 votes. They held hundreds of meetings, consulted with dozens of businesses and associations, and were well on the way to introducing on April 26 something they thought would pass.
Then, there was another delay; Graham backed out because of his outrage that immigration reform was being moved to the front of the line for Senate action.
Kerry and Lieberman pressed onward, and when Senate Majority Leader announced immigration reform may not move this year and that the focus was back on climate change legislation it looked like they would get their release date. Things were set for this week (May 12).
Now, will there be another delay - and will it be Harry Reid's fault?
In a story carried earlier today on the website for Bloomberg Businessweek, Senator Reid was quoted as saying in an interview on Univision's "El Punto" television show that the Senate may take up a "smaller energy bill" in lieu of the larger cap-and-trade bill. In short, he says the votes aren't there on the Republican side.
Are you kidding me? Another mid-stream course correction? Of course there are not enough Republican votes; no one wants to commit to a bill that they haven't seen yet (health care reform and other bills notwithstanding). And what does it say about message coordination when Kerry and Lieberman are saying the votes are there, and Reid says that they aren't.
You have to give it to Reid: he certainly keeps things interesting (substitute words could also include "confusing" or "mystifying"). But with his constant back-and-forth on this, and the stop-and-go technique of the bill's three lead sponsors, it's like watching a teenager in driver's education class who isn't quite sure when to hit the brakes and when to punch the accelerator.
Right now, the Senate is just doing donuts on the Capitol lawn...