ABC News’ Jonathan Karl reports:
The nation’s top Democrats – including President Obama, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and former Vice President Al Gore -- are scrambling today to get the votes to pass a sweeping energy and climate bill in the House.
“We don’t have the votes yet,” a top House Democrat tells ABC News. “There are a lot of concerns from the left and the right, but we think we’ll get there.”
Speaker Pelosi hopes to have a vote on the bill tomorrow, or possibly Saturday, but she is unlikely to call for a vote until she is sure the bill will pass.
Pelosi cancelled a planned visit to Capitol Hill by Gore this afternoon. Instead of addressing the entire Democratic caucus, Gore is working the phones from Tennessee, talking one-on-one to the two dozen or so Democrats who are still undecided.
Gore’s call list includes liberals who think the bill has been watered down too much – as well as nervous moderates who are concerned about Republican attacks that a vote for the bill is a vote to hike energy taxes.
Democratic leadership aides say Emanuel and the president are also calling undecided Democrats today.
The vast majority of Republicans will vote against the bill, deriding it as a “cap and tax” bill that will raise the energy costs of all Americans.
If Pelosi, D-Calif., pulls off a victory on this – and she says she’s optimistic -- the bill moves to the Senate, where the fight will be even tougher.
UPDATE: Republicans are using Gore’s involvement to press moderate Democrats to come out against the bill. "How is a Democrat sitting in a swing district going to tell their constituents with a straight face that they were undecided on whether or not to support a national energy tax until Al Gore or Nancy Pelosi convinced them it was the right thing to do?" Ken Spain, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, said in a statement. "The cast of characters forcing this vote are putting dozens of Democrat House members into a position they won’t be able to defend come 2010."