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WASHINGTON (Reuters)—Senate Democrats on Monday said they will delay introducing a climate change bill for a few weeks and aim to unveil legislation that is high on President Barack Obama's agenda later in September.
Even with the delay, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., "fully expects the Senate to have ample time to consider this comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation before the end of the year," spokesman Jim Manley said.
Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry, D-Mass., had intended to introduce the bill next week when the Senate returns from a month-long recess.
The delay, they said, is related to the Senate's focus on health care legislation, which has been struggling in Congress, as well as to the death last week of Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., and hip surgery Sen. Kerry had in August.
The announcement marked the second time the controversial climate change legislation has been put off in the Senate.
On July 9, Sen. Boxer abandoned her early August deadline for her committee to finish writing a bill to put the United States on a path toward reducing emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.
When that first delay was announced, Sen. Reid set a Sept. 28 deadline for various Senate committees to write their portions of a climate change bill in preparation for a full Senate debate in October.
Now, with a late-September goal for just introducing a bill, it could take several more weeks for those committees to consider a bill.
Backers of legislation to reduce utility and factory emissions of greenhouse gases want significant progress by December, when a United Nations meeting is scheduled in Copenhagen to set a course for new global controls.
The House of Representatives in June narrowly passed a bill that would reduce U.S. carbon emissions by 17% by 2020, from 2005 levels. Sen. Boxer has said she would work off that bill, making "tweaks" to it.