Reid looking forward to vote No. 59

Taking questions at a renewable energy event in Las Vegas today, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he expects to have Al Franken by his side in the Senate within weeks.

“He should be with us in the next couple of weeks,” pending a possible Supreme Court challenge, Reid said of the humorist and would-be senator from Minnesota. On Monday, a state court named Franken, a Democrat like Reid, the winner of the hair’s-breadth election, but Republican Norm Coleman has said he will appeal to the state’s high court.

If Franken finally wins his election five months ago, he would be the 59th Democrat in the Senate.

Even with Franken’s help, Reid said, passing legislation to address climate change stands to be a very difficult challenge because of all the senators who will be looking to protect home-state coal interests. He noted that he has had his own battle with the coal industry since he announced in 2007 his opposition to the building of coal-fired power plants in Nevada, something he said his advisers warned was politically unwise.

The three components of energy legislation that need to be addressed, according to Reid, are increasing efficiency standards for buildings and appliances; building a “superhighway” electrical grid for renewable energy; and fighting global warning, likely through a cap-and-trade system of pollution credits. The first of those three he called relatively easy to accomplish, the second doable; the third, he said, will be a fight.

Reid said he’s leaning toward combining the energy and climate provisions in one piece of legislation, currently in the hands of the House of Representatives, rather than one at a time.

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