Swing Senator Sherrod Brown Weighs In on the Stimulus
One of the greatest obstacles to overarching energy policy reform is likely to come in the form of a group of moderate Democratic senators from states that rely heavily on manufacturing. Among this so-called Gang of 16 is Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), who is also a member of the Senate Subcommittee on Energy, Science and Technology.
I caught up with Brown today after he made an appearance at a sustainable energy research event at the National Press Club. With the Senate on the verge of passing the stimulus package, I asked him what he saw as the biggest holes in the bill that need to be filled.
Sen. Sherrod Brown speaking at the National Press Club
“I would like to see more direct spending on infrastructure, but I think that’s a major component of it,” he responded. “I think there should be fewer tax breaks for businesses. … I think you want to kick the demand side a little bit more, but, you know, we can debate all day what’s better and what’s worse. I like the bill overall, I think it’s very good, I think it takes us exactly in the right direction.”
I then asked him whether he preferred the House bill, which provided less money in the way of tax cuts and more for infrastructure spending, aid to states and green investments.
“It doesn’t matter what I prefer,” he said. “I mean, I’m going to vote for the Senate bill today and tomorrow — cloture today and the bill tomorrow. And then we’ll negotiate and we gotta get 60 votes in the Senate.”
In his speech at the Press Club, he emphasized the need to balance environmental and manufacturing concerns. Ideally, he said, a green agenda would create manufacturing jobs rather than hurting industry.
“We’ll literally grow our economy as we protect our environment,” he pledged.
Brown will be someone to watch after the stimulus passes and environmental concerns come to the fore.