GOP Senators Pledge to Fight Climate Bill

Posted June 28, 2009 at 11:37am

Leading Republican Senators on Sunday blasted the climate change package that cleared the House late last week and suggested it stands little chance of success in their chamber.

“This bill coming out of the House is going nowhere in the Senate,— Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.—

The measure, a key priority for President Barack Obama, squeaked through the House on Friday, 219-212, with 44 Democrats voting against it.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), appearing on “Fox News Sunday,— called the measure a jobs killer and argued it would lead to electricity rate hikes.

“If we do have a global warming problem, and many people believe we do, we need to target it on a global basis,— he said, suggesting the need to address foreign polluters like China and India.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (Iowa), the top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, said the House package would cost jobs and made the case for an international approach.

“We’ve got to have an international agreement so we have a level playing field,— he said in an appearance on ABC’s “This Week.—

The measure faces a steep climb in the Senate, and White House senior adviser David Axelrod, also on “This Week,— said it likely will not be dealt with until the fall.

Meanwhile, with Senators forging ahead on an overhaul of the health care system, senior administration officials dodged questions about whether Obama would reverse his campaign pledge not to tax health benefits to pay for the revamp.

Asked whether Obama would veto a package that included such a tax hike, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius demurred.

“What he wants to do is keep people at the table and figure out the best strategy going forward,— she said on “Fox News Sunday.—

Axelrod said the president has made clear he does not favor taxing benefits. But he signaled the president would not rule out the provision as a deal-killer.

“One of the problems we’ve had in this town is people draw lines in the sand and they stop talking to each other and you don’t get anything done,— he said.

Republican Senators said the government-backed option the White House is pushing as a centerpiece of the plan is a nonstarter in the Senate, with McConnell pointing to “a lot of Democrats who are uncomfortable— with the approach. Grassley said lawmakers should scrap the idea and instead pursue a plan to develop health care co-ops, an approach being pushed by Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.). Grassley said that idea could gather bipartisan support.