Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., said this afternoon that a framework for a climate bill that he, Senate Foreign Relations Chairman John Kerry and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., are trying to put together before December's international climate talks in Copenhagen should include a Finance Committee-approved plan to allocate emission credits to businesses.
"The framework won't be whole without that," Lieberman told reporters after he, Kerry and others held a bipartisan meeting about the Copenhagen talks with U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
"That's the ideal," Lieberman said. "But when we spoke to [Finance Chairman] Max [Baucus] today, it was clear that he thought it was going to be just plain hard to get the time to do that but he promised us he'd try."
Kerry told reporters that Baucus has not made a decision yet on holding a markup this year and "made it very clear that he's going to try to expedite this."
Senate Foreign Relations ranking member Richard Lugar -- who along with Ohio Sen. George Voinovich were the Republicans at the meeting with Ban -- afterward stressed high unemployment and the recession and suggested he would be a tough sell on a bill.
"I don't see any climate legislation on the table here now that I would support, so you'd really have to start from scratch again," he said.
Ban afterwards said he left the meeting with an understanding that, "There is great support in the Senate for action on climate change." He said that is needed to reach an international agreement, adding that he hopes the Senate acts on a climate bill "as soon as possible."
Ban said talks will need to continue after Copenhagen before an international climate treaty is finished, ideally early next year, and could then be sent to the Senate for ratification.
"We don't expect Copenhagen to be the final say," he said. U.S. leadership, he said, "is crucial at this time." President Obama is travelling to China this month to talk about how the two countries can work together to address climate change.