Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Tuesday downplayed the prospects for Senate action on cap-and-trade climate legislation this year. From The New York Times, “2010? Reid’s Comments Add Uncertainty to Climate Vote’s Timing “:

Reid had suggested that the global warming legislation could be tossed to the sidelines because of a packed legislative agenda that includes equally bruising battles over health care and Wall Street reform.

“So, you know, we are going to have a busy, busy time the rest of this year,” Reid said. “And, of course, nothing terminates at the end of this year. We still have next year to complete things if we have to.”

The odds of Congress acting on what amounts to a major new tax on energy seems unlikely during an election year. The Times also quotes Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND), a member of the Democratic leadership, who is up for re-election in 2010 in North Dakota, an energy-producing state: “I think its increasingly difficult to have a climate change bill done before the end of the year.” (Reid is also up for election.)

Maybe this will swing the debate: “Sweden Urges US Senate To Pass Climate Bill“:

STOCKHOLM — Sweden’s environment minister urged the U.S. Senate on Monday to pass legislation to control greenhouse gases, saying a delay in the vote is impeding negotiations on a new international climate treaty.

Minister Andreas Carlgren said America’s complex debate over health care reforms is sidelining its vote on a climate bill that is needed to persuade other nations — especially the fast-growing economies of India and China — to commit to lowering their greenhouse gas emissions at the Copenhagen climate summit in December.

“It is crucial that the Americans deliver a reliable emission pathway,” Carlgren said, referring to a plan for how emissions will be cut to stated targets. “But that is dependent on the Senate’s lawmaking.”

Only by acting to raise the costs of energy and destroy jobs can the United States demonstrate its seriousness in Copenhagen, or so goes the argument. Is it proportional? The more jobs we destroy, the more serious we are?

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