To no one’s surprise, today’s energy and climate meeting between key senators and President Obama appears to have been inconclusive, with Democrats opening up to further concessions and Republicans remaining reluctant to sign on. Darren Samuelsohn reports:
Sens. John Kerry and Joe Lieberman told reporters after the 90-minute West Wing meeting that Obama held firm in his calls for a price on greenhouse gases. But they said the president acknowledged that he could agree to a more limited climate and energy bill than any the senators had previously drafted.
“We believe we have compromised significantly, and we’re prepared to compromise further,” Kerry said.
“The president was very clear about putting a price on carbon” and curbing greenhouse gases, he added.
Lieberman said a couple of Republicans in the meeting promised to keep talking about the prospect of a less-ambitious climate program that includes a price on carbon, though he wouldn’t name names. [...]
Republican Sens. Lamar Alexander, Susan Collins, Judd Gregg, Richard Lugar, Lisa Murkowski, Olympia Snowe and George Voinovich also attended the White House meeting, but left with a very different message than their Democratic counterparts.
“We’ve got to take a national energy tax off the table in the middle of a recession,” said Alexander, chairman of the Senate GOP Conference.
If they can’t reach a deal that includes some carbon-capping provisions, there’s talk of passing a weak bill and then using a lame-duck conference committee to strengthen it — a risky gamble, and one that liberal senators may be reluctant to settle for.