Obama Sees a Path in Senate for Climate Bill

Posted June 29, 2009 at 7:09am

President Barack Obama on Sunday said House passage of the climate change bill provides the framework for success in the Senate, repeatedly pointing to the support of conservative Democratic Rep. Rick Boucher of Virginia and some business officials as a sign that broad support is possible.

“One of the things that we were convinced of was that we could not get the Senate to move aggressively until they saw how the politics aligned in the House,— Obama said in an interview with a small group of reporters in the Oval Office. The White House did not release a transcript of the conversation, but one was published in the New York Times.

“I think now that you’ve seen somebody like a Rick Boucher of Virginia able to enter into very constructive negotiations with a [liberal Democrat like] Henry Waxman of California — that, I think, provides a blueprint for how the Senate can proceed,— he said. “I think that when you’ve got corporate leaders like [General Electric’s CEO] Jeff Immelt, legislators from coal regions like Rick Boucher, and Al Gore all agreeing that this is worth doing, that’s a pretty good coalition to work with.—

Obama acknowledged that there will be “tough negotiations— between the House and the Senate if the Senate passes a bill, though he said he expected substantial overlap between the two pieces of legislation.

But the president suggested he opposes a provision in the House bill that would assess tariffs on goods from countries that do not match the United States in their greenhouse gas emissions cuts.

“At a time when the economy worldwide is still deep in recession and we’ve seen a significant drop in global trade, I think we have to be very careful about sending any protectionist signals out there,— Obama said. “There are going to be a series of negotiations around this and I am very mindful of wanting to make sure that there’s a level playing field internationally. I think there may be other ways of doing it than with a tariff approach.—