The New York Times reports this morning that the retirement of Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens may affect whether or not the Senate will be able to take up the Democrats’ next signature issue: global warming. Considering that Republicans have promised a “whale of a fight” (we’ll see) if President Obama’s nominee is too liberal (guaranteed), some say there is not enough time to conduct two more significant political battles before November’s elections:
Stevens’ announcement arrived more than a week before the anticipated release of a Senate bill restricting greenhouse gases. That timing clouds the chamber’s legislative horizon by handing senators a top White House priority in the months leading to contentious midterm campaigning.
That leaves climate change — still competing for attention with Obama’s other big priorities, like an overhaul of Wall Street and a comprehensive jobs bill — in limbo. The climate bill being drafted by Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) would need to gain swift support to outpace the encompassing confirmation of a life-serving justice, according to some observers.
There’s a stretch of time between two congressional recesses, Memorial Day and the Fourth of July, that provides an optimal window for movement of a bill, said Chelsea Maxwell, a former climate adviser to retired Sen. John Warner (R-Va.). That gives lawmakers an opportunity to bring legislation to the Senate floor before the height of the election season and any political maneuvering over a Supreme Court nominee.
But the Times also reports that a lot of folks are reminiscing about 1994 as they look toward November 2010, and as Democrats exit the sinking ship. The “height of the election season” may be meaningless by the time it arrives, with Democrats recognizing more every day that victory this fall is unattainable. They may go for broke before they go out the door. This is their opportunity to implement as much of their big government agenda as they can, because they will not see a majority like this again in their lifetimes.