Schumer: Dems To Aim Low On Climate And Energy

In the latest blow to the prospects of climate and energy legislation, the third ranking Democrat in the Senate suggested today that Dems will start small, instead of bringing a comprehensive bill to the floor.

Appearing on MSNBC this morning, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) confirmed that Majority Leader Harry Reid will move an energy-only bill next month, based on a template authored by Energy Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman, and predicted that Sens. John Kerry (D-MA) and Joe Lieberman (I-CT) will have a chance to offer their much farther-reaching climate change legislation as an amendment to the base package.

“Kerry has a proposal that has pretty broad support,” Schumer said. “He’s going, in my opinion, going to get a chance to offer it in the form of an amendment.”That procedural avenue would make the chances of rounding up 60 votes for capping and pricing carbon more difficult, but is of a piece with the noises coming out of Reid’s own office. Keying off the oil spill in a letter delivered last week, Reid asked several committee chairmen to offer up ideas in time for him to put together an energy bill in July–this despite the fact that the Kerry-Lieberman bill is already drafted, and has been at the center of the energy debate in the Senate for months.

And several weeks ago, top Democratic sources began telling reporters that a comprehensive climate and energy bill was unlikely to get a vote this year.

Late update: Schumer spokesman Brian Fallon says his boss spoke out of turn this morning, and that his prediction was purely speculative.