The “final week of the” UN Climate Change summit “boils down to a battle between” Pres. Obama and “the self-described ‘skunk at the picnic’” — Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK).
Inhofe, “who has called global warming a hoax, plans to travel this week to Copenhagen” where he’ll stay “just long enough — as few as three hours, he says — to tell heads of state that the Senate will not pass an energy bill that would limit greenhouse gas emissions.”
Inhofe: “We know (the bill) is never going to go to a vote. It’s dead. It’s gone … I’m not going to allow them to think America is going to do something it’s not.”
Delegates from other countries “say that without Congress’ support, Obama won’t be able to keep whatever promises he makes when he arrives” 12/18 “to try to seal a deal on capping emissions” (Winter, USA Today, 12/14).
In the weekly GOP address, Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) “slammed” the summit, saying it “could result in emissions mandates” that “would destroy millions of American jobs and damage our economic competitiveness for decades to come.”
Blackburn: “With Americans already facing double-digit unemployment, there could be no worse time to unilaterally disarm our energies of job creation and economic growth.” (Zimmermann, The Hill, 12/12).
But “despite a multitude of impasses, conflicts, and dramas playing out in hotel lobbies, restaurants, and meeting halls in Denmark’s frigid capital city, hope remains the dominant mood” as the summit enters its final five days.
Even if a final agreement on greenhouse gas emissions is not achieved, “many environmentalists, academics, and scientists say, the groundwork to reach one next year appears to be getting done” (Daley, Boston Globe, 12/14).
War Of The Bills
“As if the debate … wasn’t complicated enough,” Sens. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Susan Collins (R-ME) 12/11 “introduced their own bill to cut emissions, one that’s a lot simpler to explain to voters” and that “plays off the anti-Wall Street mood that’s popular” on both sides of the aisle.
The “question is whether the latest bill will be any easier to pass.” Like other bills it would “require companies to hold government-issued permits in order to emit greenhouse gases” but the Cantwell-Collins measure “would give the vast majority of revenues raised under such a system — 75% — back to consumers each month in the form of checks.”
At “39 pages, the Cantwell-Collins bill is a lot easier to understand than the” 1.4K-paged “behemoth the House approved” over the summer and it’s also “a lot closer to the spirit of” Obama’s “campaign pledge, which called for ‘all pollution credits to be auctioned.’” But “does that make it easier to pass?”
Cantwell “says her bill,” with Collin’s co-sponsorship, “has a better chance of securing the votes of” GOPers and moderate Dems (Power, Wall Street Journal, 12/11).
Their version may give critics of the House bill “something to rally around.” Cantwell-Collins “has attracted support from some new quarters, however, it could lose support from segments of the business community that have helped propel the climate legislation” forward in the House and Senate cmte.
Wall Street “may be particularly disappointed in the new bill” because it “would restrict trading in a new carbon market to entities regulated by the act, a move that may have more populist appeal” (Snyder, The Hill, 12/14).
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"American spies collected information last summer revealing that senior Russian intelligence and political officials were discussing how to exert influence over Donald J. Trump through his advisers." The conversations centered around Paul Manafort, who was campaign chairman at the time, and Michael Flynn, former national security adviser and then a close campaign surrogate. Both men have been tied heavily with Russia and Flynn is currently at the center of the FBI investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
"Former FBI Director Robert Mueller has been cleared by U.S. Department of Justice ethics experts to oversee an investigation into possible collusion between then-candidate Donald Trump's 2016 election campaign and Russia." Some had speculated that the White House would use "an ethics rule limiting government attorneys from investigating people their former law firm represented" to trip up Mueller's appointment. Jared Kushner is a client of Mueller's firm, WilmerHale. "Although Mueller has now been cleared by the Justice Department, the White House may still use his former law firm's connection to Manafort and Kushner to undermine the findings of his investigation, according to two sources close to the White House."
Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Richard Burr (R-NC) and ranking member Mark Warner (D-VA) will subpoena two businesses owned by former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. Burr said, "We would like to hear from General Flynn. We'd like to see his documents. We'd like him to tell his story because he publicly said he had a story to tell."