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Does Health Care Affect The Climate Debate At All?

Yesterday, Lindsey Graham got a lot of press when he announced that Republicans were so upset about the passage of health care reform that it would make it much harder to pass anything else this year—including climate legislation:

"It's going to make it very difficult to do anything complicated and controversial," Graham told reporters yesterday. "I'm still committed to trying to roll out a vision of how you can price carbon and make it business-friendly. We're still going to do that. ... But the truth of the matter is, I think you're going to find most of our colleagues around here risk averse."

But is this really true? For now, there doesn't appear to have been a big shift among potential GOP swing votes. Graham is still pledging to help craft a climate bill. Olympia Snowe was heard grumbling about the health care vote, but she then told reporters that she'd "continue to work" with Democrats on energy and climate legislation. And Susan Collins is holding an event on carbon pricing tomorrow. Granted, any climate bill will face steep—maybe insurmountable—hurdles in the Senate, but so far, it doesn't seem like health care has made much difference either way.

In fact, the only Republican who has firmly committed to sulking is John McCain, who told a radio interviewer in Arizona yesterday: "There will be no cooperation for the rest of the year." But as far as energy policy goes, this changes little. Sure, once upon a time McCain thought global warming was a large, looming problem. But since the 2008 election he's come up with endless excuses for dodging the issue. Just yesterday he was complaining that Democrats "refuse to have nuclear power" in their energy plans. This despite the fact that the Obama administration has proposed a huge expansion of loan guarantees for new nuclear reactors. McCain hasn't sounded like someone open to cooperation for quite some time.

(Flickr photo credit: World Economic Forum)