Supposedly it’s merely a scheduling move, aimed at pushing the C&T debate into the fall when the Senate calendar is less crowded.

Really, though? Democrats, who are already terrified of losing Congress, are going to surf into the midterms with an eleventh-hour push for a hugely expensive new bill related to … global warming? With the GOP already armed with ad-ready video of Obama talking about how it’ll make energy prices “skyrocket”? Radical prediction: Reid’s going to end up deciding in September that the schedule’s still a little too “crowded” to take this up.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) will bring a limited package of oil spill response and energy measures to the floor next week, delaying action until at least this fall on a broader proposal that would impose greenhouse gas limits on power plants, senior Senate Democratic aides said.

Aides insisted Reid’s decision is a nod to the packed floor schedule the Senate faces before it leaves in two weeks for the August recess, and that he he has not abandoned plans to try and bring up a broader climate and energy plan later in the year…

For now, the limited package expected on the floor this month will likely allow Democrats to push through a response to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill — such as tougher rig safety requirements — and perhaps some energy provisions that members of both parties could support.

Lindsey Graham, the Dems’ best hope for a Republican vote on cap-and-trade, abandoned ship on the bill last month ostensibly because it’s too lenient about new offshore drilling(!). Which is funny, because he appeared to have abandoned the bill two months earlier for a completely different reason — namely, that Obama and Reid were giving priority to a new immigration bill instead. Either way, the moral of the story is that even Graham really, really doesn’t want to touch C&T right now, and if he’s not willing to do so, you can imagine how vulnerable Dems like Blanche Lincoln feel about it. No wonder John Kerry, who’s been the bill’s chief cheerleader for months in insisting that they can get it done, is now sounding awfully gloomy about its prospects. Exit question: Isn’t this the perfect item for a lame-duck Congress after election day? They’ll never pass it in the next term with a more Republican membership.