From Sunlen Miller :
During a closed-door meeting with a bipartisan group of Senators in the Cabinet Room this afternoon President Obama made a "very passionate argument" for putting a price on carbon emissions.
“He was very strong about the need to put a price on carbon pollution and make polluters pay,” Senator Lieberman (I-CT) said in the White House driveway following the meeting.
Lieberman, standing next to the energy bill’s co-sponsor Senator Kerry (D-MA), said that during the meeting some Republicans expressed that they may be open to compromise on carbon pollution.
“A very important thing that happened around the table is that some of our colleagues who up until this time had been at least publically reluctant about the polluter pays, putting a price on carbon pollution said that they’d be willing to discuss limited terms of doing that in this bill. And to me that’s a breakthrough,” Lieberman touted.
Senator Kerry said that they’d wait for the Republicans to speak on this, but added that the Democrats are prepared to compromise further – and are looking for both Republicans and Democrats to compromise with.
“We are prepared to scale back the reach of our legislation in order to try to find that place of compromise because we believe, and I think the president believes very strongly what is important is for America to get started.”
But the Republicans who emerged from the meeting did not sound so confident about a compromise on putting a price on carbon.
Senator Murkowski (R-AK) said, “a cap and trade proposal, a national energy tax will not sell in this country at this time,” because Americans are worried about jobs.
Senator Alexander (R-TN) echoed this sentiment. “My suggestion was if we want a clean energy bill; take the national energy tax off the table, in the middle of a recession, while we are cleaning up form an oil spill. A s long as we take a national energy tax off the table there’s no reason why we can’t have clean energy legislation.”
Senator Kerry said that taking the option for price on carbon is not a place to compromise.
“An energy only bill, we have passed ten of them, since Richard Nixon was president, we have passed two of them in the past four years,” Kerry said, “None of those bills have done the job. An energy only bill will reduce 1/10th the number of jobs and it will result in 1/10th the reduction in emissions.”
As for the schedule for movement on the bill, as the White House had indicated that they’d like this done by this year, Kerry gave no hard goals.
“As soon as possible,” Kerry said, “we’ll see whether or not the Senate will step up to the moment.”