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The White House’s Climate Strategy: Pass Bill Now, Slip Carbon Taxes in Later

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You have to read between the lines on this one: “several sources familiar with the administration’s thinking confirmed it has started pressing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to bring up a slimmed-down energy and climate bill next month. Such a measure would pass more easily than a comprehensive climate bill, and could still be negotiated with the broader bill the House passed a year ago.”

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Juliet Eilperin, The Washington Post
June 18, 2010

While President Obama made the pitch for climate and energy legislation yet again Tuesday in his Oval Office address, he did not disclose the White House’s new strategy: push for a scaled-back bill in the Senate, and drag out the conference long enough to ensure a floor vote after the negotiations.

White House spokesman Ben LaBolt said the administration continues to press for a broad Senate bill: “Last night President Obama reiterated his call for comprehensive energy and climate legislation to break our dependence on oil and fossil fuels. Next week he will be reaching out to senators on both sides of the aisle to chart a path forward.”

“A number of proposals have been put forward from members on both sides of the aisle. We’re open to good ideas from all sources, and will be working with senators on a comprehensive proposal,” LaBolt added. “The tragedy in the gulf underscores the need to move quickly, and the president is committed to finding the votes for comprehensive energy legislation this year.”

But several sources familiar with the administration’s thinking confirmed it has started pressing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to bring up a slimmed-down energy and climate bill next month. Such a measure would pass more easily than a comprehensive climate bill, and could still be negotiated with the broader bill the House passed a year ago.

Under this scenario, the final product of any House-Senate conference could come up for a final vote in a lame-duck session after lawmakers have faced voters in November, thereby cushioning the vote’s political impact.

Reid spokesman Jim Manley said the majority leader was still consulting with his Democratic colleagues, who plan to discuss climate legislation during a caucus meeting Thursday.

“We haven’t settled on next steps and strategy,” Manley said in an interview. “Whatever we do, we’re going to need the help of the administration to get the 60 votes out of the Senate.”

In a statement released Tuesday night, Reid made it clear he still doesn’t see the votes for a broad climate bill in light of GOP opposition.

“I look forward to working with the president to find a bipartisan path to passing meaningful, comprehensive clean-energy legislation this year,” Reid said. “This legislation can only be passed if Republicans decide to work with us and demonstrate that they share our serious commitment to building a 21st-century energy strategy for America.”

And when asked if the leader was leaning toward a scaled-back bill, Manley replied, “We’re all moving toward that.”

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3 Responses to “The White House’s Climate Strategy: Pass Bill Now, Slip Carbon Taxes in Later”

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