Liberals to Bayh: Don’t Block Carbon Caps

By Teddy Davis

Mar 24, 2009 1:16pm

ABC News’ Teddy Davis reports: Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh (D), the head of a new group of centrist Democratic senators, came under fire from progressive leaders Tuesday for wanting to subject President Obama’s climate change legislation to a 60 vote rather than a simple majority vote requirement in the United States Senate. "We don’t expect Democrats to walk in lockstep. They’ve never done that," said Bob Borosage, the co-director of the liberal Campaign for America’s Future, on a conference call with reporters. "That’s different from saying I’m going to join with Republicans to block the president from getting an up- or down-vote on his agenda." Borosage is spearheading a liberal Democratic effort to pressure Bayh and other moderate Democrats to allow climate change legislation to receive expedited consideration under the Senate’s budget reconciliation procedures. Last week, Bayh was one of 8 Senate Democrats to join 25 Senate Republicans in a letter urging the chair and ranking Republican on the Budget Committee not to use the budget reconciliation process to consider Obama’s proposal to cap carbon emissions and charge polluters for the right to emit greenhouse gases. "We oppose using the budget reconciliation process to expedite passage of climate legislation," reads the cap-and-trade letter. "Enactment of a cap-and-trade regime is likely to influence nearly every feature of the U.S. economy. Legislation so far-reaching should be fully vetted and given appropriate time for debate, something the budget reconciliation process does not allow. Using this procedure would circumvent normal Senate practice and would be inconsistent with the Administration’s stated goals of bipartisanship, cooperation, and openness." The eight Democratic senators who signed the letter are: Bayh; Robert Byrd, W.Va.; Blanche Lincoln, Ark.; Mary Landrieu, La.; Carl Levin, Mich.; Ben Nelson, Neb.; Bob Casey Jr., Pa.; and Mark Pryor, Ark.
Read the cap-and-trade letter here. The Obama administration acknowledges that its cap-and-trade proposal would result in higher energy costs for consumers. It is hoping to ameliorate those higher costs through a $400 per person "Making Work Pay" tax credit which would go to low- and middle-income workers. Critics of the Obama plan worry that the "Making Work Pay" credit will not fully offset the higher energy costs consumers will face in states like Bayh’s Indiana which are heavily dependent on coal. In addition to the criticism he faced on climate change legislation, Bayh’s group came under fire on a Tuesday conference call with reporters for wanting the government to tighten its belt during an economic recession. It’s "wrongheaded" to suggest that "the government should do less" at a time when "the economy is headed towards a collapse," said Borosage. Borosage of the liberal Campaign for America’s Future has partnered on this project with USAction, a progressive group, and Jane Hamsher, a liberal blogger, who publishes Bayh’s office did not have an immediate response to the criticism that he is blocking an up-or-down vote on climate change legislation.

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