What happened
The Senate dropped a sweeping bill on climate change after Democrats were unable to muster enough votes to overcome a Republican filibuster. The bill had bipartisan support, but faced a veto threat by President Bush because it mandated caps on greenhouse-gas emissions. Presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain both support mandatory caps. (The Washington Post, free registration)

What the commentators said
For a minute, “the climate appeared to be changing in the U.S. Senate,” said The Dallas Morning News in an editorial. Alas, no. The Republican opponents to this landmark legislation decided to employ “obstructionist tactics” to not only kill the bill, but also “avenge past political defeats and impede debate” on “the most important environmental and energy issues” we face. The earth is warming, and we don’t have time to put off action.

Action, yes, but this bill was “simply not sweeping enough,” said Robb Mandelbaum in Inc.com’s The Entrepreneurial Agenda blog. The proposed “cap-and-trade system” was “tough medicine,” sure, but “not tough enough” to halt global warming. If this bill, which is “especially generous to polluters,” was too much for “a powerful minority,” that doesn’t “bode well” for future debate.

The Democrats were the ones who pulled the bill, said The Wall Street Journal in an editorial. Once their actual cap-and-trade proposal was “subjected to even preliminary scrutiny,” they “crumpled faster than you can say $4 gas.” Bringing up a bill, now, that would impose “collateral damage” on the economy and raise prices “up and down the energy chain” was “bad timing,” to say the least.

Most GOP lawmakers “still haven’t grasped the economic reality,” said the Los Angeles Times in an editorial (free registration). "Failing to slow climate change will ultimately cost the country far more money than combating it.” But there’s a “silver lining in the carbon dioxide cloud”—cap-and-trade now looks to have support from a majority of the Senate, including 10 former opponents, and that’s good enough for passage under the next president, “regardless of who wins.”