Health Care Debate Could Slow Passage of Climate Legislation


Congress’ debate over health care reform could slow the passage of climate legislation, since, practically speaking, lawmakers must choose one battle over the other for now. This lag could potentially jeopardize the success of December’s UN Climate Change Conference, the Wall Street Journal reports.

President Obama will plead his case on health care to Congress this week. Accordingly, Majority Leader (Democrat) Harry Reid has pushed deciding on the climate bill to the end of this year – a deadline that will allow Democrats to determine whether they have enough political strength left over from the health care battle to fight for the climate bill’s passage. The deadline could be pushed back even further if the health care debate drags on into the 2010 congressional midterm elections.

The climate bill faces opposition from several fronts, including fracturing in the Democratic Party over cap-and-trade, tariffs, and other details of the bill. Responsiveness from a number of stakeholder groups, including coal, oil, and manufacturing sectors, also plays a role in lawmaker’s acceptance of the bill.

Meanwhile, many sustainability proponents advocate passing the U.S. climate bill ahead of the Copenhagen conference, which will determine an emissions treaty for 2012. Many analysts believe the U.S.’s passage of its own climate bill will largely determine the conference’s success.

Sarah Harper is a professional writer based in San Francisco, California. Her interests include sustainability, government policy, and international politics. In her free time, Sarah enjoys toying with the idea of holistic health, overanalysis, and plotting world exploration.

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