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Climate speed race

By Juliet Eilperin

If you're an aide to Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.), Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) or Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Vt.) and happen to work on climate issues, you can forget about having fun Saturday night. Or for the next few weeks, for that matter.

The three senators who have spent months trying to forge a consensus climate bill have told their staffs to produce a document this weekend detailing options for a final proposal. The three men hope to introduce a bill "within a matter of weeks," according to Kerry, that would give them a shot of getting 60 votes if the bill makes it to the floor this year.

Lieberman said the lawmakers have reached the stage where "We've gotten the pieces of the puzzle on the table, which is good. But the pieces are not together to form a picture to say we've got sixty votes for a good bill."

Once they have all the key policy options on the table, Lieberman said, they can go to their colleagues and push for vote pledges.

"We can say, O.K., this is commitment time, this is decision time," he said. "If we put in this piece which you say is important to you, will you commit to support the bill?"

The three senators have been meeting constantly on the bill--with each other, outside interest groups and other senators--since Congress returned in late January.

The week of Feb. 8--snowstorms and all--Kerry met with Interior Secretary Ken Salazar; Sens. Scott Brown (R-Mass.), Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine); seven CEOs from the business-environmental coalition USCAP; natural gas CEOs; and Dennis Bracy, CEO of the U.S.-China Clean Energy Forum. Graham, Lieberman and Kerry also had a conference call with Salazar, White House climate czar Carol Browner, and met with entrepreneur and natural-gas booster T. Boone Pickens.

Next week promises more work: Kerry plans to hold between eight and ten more meetings with senators starting Monday, some with Graham and Lieberman in tow.

"The outcome of the Kerry-Graham-Lieberman process will determine whether there's global warming and clean energy legislation in 2010," said Dan Weiss, a senior fellow at Center for American Progress.


Juliet Eilperin

 |  February 26, 2010; 6:39 PM ET Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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