|We're Working Out the Issues,' House Dems Say after Obama Climate Meeting |
By Darren Samuelshn
May 5, 2009
President Obama urged House Democrats today to reach consensus on
global warming and energy legislation during a closed-door White House meeting.
Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, White House energy advisers and three dozen or
so Democratic members of the Energy and Commerce Committee met for about an hour
to discuss a range of issues before the panel, including the climate bill that
has been stuck for weeks in subcommittee.
After the meeting, Democrats stressed that Obama stayed away from details and
urged lawmakers guarding regional interests to work together.
“We're talking to each other. And we're working out these issues because we want
to be together and we want to succeed in getting this legislation through," said
Rep. Henry Waxman of California, the committee chairman. He said lawmakers had
reached agreement on "Cash for Clunkers" language and would provide details later.
Waxman declined to comment when asked if the markup would start this week,
saying only that he remains committed to moving the bill by Memorial Day.
The Democrats also confirmed a published report that the White House was
interested in linking support for a climate change bill with a separate plan to
expand domestic energy production. But Waxman declined to elaborate, saying
energy production is not in his committee's jurisdiction; the matter would rest
with the Natural Resources Committee.
As with the recent stimulus package and budget resolution, Obama has largely
left lawmakers to haggle over the details on the climate legislation, promising
to enter talks only at critical moments. But with the climate bill in dire
straits at the subcommittee level, Obama decided it was time to weigh in.
"We're already at a key moment," said Paul Bledsoe, a spokesman for the National
Commission on Energy Policy.
This year's climate push has little of the bipartisan spirit that sponsors tried
to inject in last June's Senate debate, when Virginia Republican John Warner
teamed with Connecticut independent Joe Lieberman and California Democrat
Barbara Boxer on a broad cap-and-trade plan for greenhouse gas emissions.
By contrast, Republicans today opened their own summit on issues aimed at
portraying the Democratic climate plan as a new energy tax.
"Now, some in Washington say the only way to clean up the environment is through
government regulation, and they are pursuing a new national energy tax to do
it," House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) said at the start of the GOP
session on Capitol Hill.
"With all due respect, that's the wrong approach," Boehner said. "We know
raising taxes hurts the economy. We can clean up our environment and create jobs
at the same time. We don't need a national energy tax that would send millions
of American jobs overseas."