Boxer Delays Senate Climate Bill Until September

This was supposed to be a big week for action on climate change in the Senate -- but it's ending with Republicans rubbing their hands in glee as the Environment and Public Works Committee delays its unveiling of legislation on carbon emissions.

070619_boxer.jpgSenate environment committee chairman Barbara Boxer (D-CA) (Photo: AP)

As Reuters reports this afternoon:

[Environment committee chairman] Barbara Boxer (D-CA) said her self-imposed deadline of early August for finishing writing a bill to combat global warming has been put off until after Congress returns from a recess that ends in early September.

"We'll do it as soon as we get back" from that break, Boxer told reporters. Asked if this delay jeopardizes chances the Senate will pass a bill this year, Boxer said, "Not a bit ... we'll be in (session) until Christmas, so I'm not worried about it."

But Boxer did not guarantee Congress will be able to finish a bill and deliver it to Obama by December, when he plans to attend an international summit on climate change in Copenhagen.

Just two weeks ago, Boxer advised supporters of transportation reform to "work with me on my global warming bill" as she called for a quick rescue of the nation's highway trust fund.

The highway account is expected to run dry in mid-August, sending Congress and the Obama administration scurrying to find $20 billion to keep state-level road projects funded until the end of 2010.

Boxer's postponement of a climate debate in her committee may well be an acknowledgment of the challenge lawmakers are facing to rustle up that $20 billion by month's end -- especially given that House transportation committee chairman Jim Oberstar (D-MN) is refusing to budge on his commitment to a new transportation bill this year. The delay in climate may also be driven by the uncertainty surrounding a global pact on emissions reduction.

No matter what, however, the environmental news out of the Senate today is not good.