After a dispute over unrelated immigration reform legislation, the unveiling of a US senate climate bill has been postponed.
The bill is the result of discussions between Democratic, Republican and independent senators.
The initial plan was to outline details of the bill to environmental and industry representatives on Monday at a news conference.
Democratic senator John Kerry (photo, from aljazeera.net) said the climate change bill was postponed on Saturday. He added that he would continue to try to get it through the senate.
Earlier on Saturday Lindsey Graham, a Republican senator, said he would withdraw from the bipartisan effort because of concerns that Democrats would try to push forward with a debate on immigration reform, rather than the climate bill.
Kerry said after more than six months of meetings with Graham and Joseph Lieberman, an independent senator, that “we believe that we had reached” an agreement on the details of a bill.
“But regrettably, external issues have arisen that force us to postpone only temporarily” the senate’s work on the bill, he said.
The bill would also expand US nuclear power generation and offshore oil drilling.
The aim of the wide-ranging bill is to reduce smokestack emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases associated with global warming.
Efforts could be doomed
Even before it became enmeshed in a partisan battle between Democrats and Republicans over immigration reform, the proposed legislation faced an uphill battle in the senate.
But senators are trying to determine where their efforts should be focused only a few months before November’s congressional elections.
The Washington Post reported earlier on Saturday that Graham wrote a letter to his colleagues informing them that he would drop out of the three-senator working group unless Democrats stepped back from plans to move ahead with immigration reform rather than the climate change bill.
And without Graham on board, efforts to pass climate control legislation could be doomed because he was expected to work to win more Republican support for the bill.
A statement was issued on Saturday by Harry Reid, the Democratic senate majority leader, saying that immigration and climate change were both important to Americans.
“They expect us to do both, and they will not accept the notion that trying to act on one is an excuse for not acting on the other,” he said.