GOP Sen To Obama: You Can't Talk Energy Bill Without Talking BP

ABC News’ Matthew Jaffe reports:

In the wake of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, President Obama today summoned a bipartisan group of over 20 senators to the White House to push for energy and climate change legislation.

But one thing the President did not want to talk about at the meeting was the BP disaster, a Republican source told ABC News. And that, the source said, led to a pointed exchange with GOP senator Lamar Alexander from Tennessee.

“The priority should be fixing the oil spill,” Alexander told the President, according to the source. “That's what any meeting about energy should be about.”

But when Alexander tried to interject the BP leak into the meeting, the source said, the President told the senator, “That’s just your talking point.”

Retorted Alexander, “No, it’s my opinion.”

The exchange illustrates the difficulty in getting any comprehensive energy and climate change bill passed by the Senate this year. Various proposals are floating around the Hill, but to date no bill has managed to gain enough support to get it past the 60-vote threshold. Republicans are adamantly against cap and trade proposals or any measure that puts a “price on carbon.”

After today’s meeting, the White House released a statement saying the President “is confident that we will be able to get something done this year.”

But that type of confidence was clearly not shared by Republican senators today.

“When you've got that many members with that many different opinions, I think it's fair to say that there was no consensus about what the path forward is,” Alaskan Republican Lisa Murkowski said about the meeting.

-Matthew Jaffe

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