The Dernogalizer

July 17, 2009

Obama Administration Pushing Harder on Climate Bill

Filed under: Energy/Climate,National Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 1:57 pm
Tags: ,

There has been a lot of sentiment, both amongst myself and others in the environmental community that the Obama Administration needs to be more hands on with the climate bill in he Senate if it’s going to get it passed.  According to an article in Politico, it appears to Obama Administration is finally getting things moving by assigning members of its cabinet to certain swing Senators they are likely to each have a positive influence on.  I think this is a good step, although I still think it will be necessary for President Obama to be more out in the public arguing for a clean energy economy and on action for global warming.  I think that is what it will take.  Article posted below.

Climate push gets personal

By: Lisa Lerer
July 17, 2009 04:22 AM EST

Stung by complaints that it did too little, too late in the House, the Obama administration has launched an intense, senator-by-senator effort to push climate change legislation through the Senate.

Call it climatedate.com.

The White House is working closely with Senate Democratic aides to match each skeptical senator with the Cabinet member or other key administration official most likely to be persuasive.

So Midwestern Democrats like Sens. Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Claire McCaskill of Missouri, who worry that the bill could send manufacturing jobs abroad, can expect a sit-down with Todd Stern, the State Department’s special envoy for climate change. Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), who wants the bill to include more domestic energy production and greater emphasis on nuclear power, can expect to hear directly from Energy Secretary Steven Chu.

Skeptical senators could also get high-profile White House meetings with the president himself.

Over the past two weeks, five Cabinet secretaries — Chu, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood — have testified in support of the legislation before the Environment and Public Works Committee.

Senate Environment and Public Works Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), who faces an uphill fight in shepherding the bill through the Senate, says she appreciates all the attention from up the street.

“It’s really been a pleasure for me, because last time I did this, I had an administration that was fighting me at every turn,” she said. “Here, I have a very supportive administration, so it’s a very nice change for us.”

The administration’s Senate strategy represents a sharp break from the way it handled the bill in the House, where White House officials did not dial up their lobbying push until just a few days before the floor vote — weeks after Reps. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.) drafted the legislation and passed it out of Waxman’s House Energy and Commerce Committee. The bill passed the House late last month, but the vote was close and came only after Obama, White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and several Cabinet secretaries twisted the arms of rural, Rust Belt and Southern Democrats.

In the Senate, by contrast, key administration officials began meeting with lawmakers months ago, say aides, intensifying their efforts after the House passed its climate bill in late June.

In March, Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) hosted a dinner at his Georgetown home to discuss how to move climate change legislation through the Senate. Attendees included Chu, Stern, Jackson, energy and climate czar Carol Browner, science and technology adviser John Holdren and Stern’s deputy, Jonathan Pershing. Economic adviser Lawrence Summers was to be there, too, but canceled after Obama called him away for a last-minute meeting.

“Everyone is involved,” said Kerry. “People are all doing a lot of different meetings and coming together each week to share the information and strategy.”

Browner is spotted on Capitol Hill almost daily, say aides. Stern and Nancy Sutley, the chairwoman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, are also frequent visitors to Capitol Hill. Members of the president’s legislative team — including legislative director Phil Schiliro — have also been meeting with staffers and aides about the bill.

As a former administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency during the Clinton administration, Browner has long-standing relationships with both Boxer and Kerry. Last week, Browner attended a meeting between Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and the six Senate committee chairmen overseeing climate and energy legislation.

But aides say she may not be the best lobbyist for some of the more moderate Democrats — particularly those from rural states. The farming community has long been skeptical of the EPA, and the tension has grown since the Obama administration has taken office.

Administration officials have also been frequent visitors to a regular Tuesday meeting of as many as 20 senators focused on climate and energy legislation. Jackson, Stern, Browner, senior political strategist David Axelrod and legislative liaison Jay Heimbach have all attended the meeting.

“When they are invited, they come,” said Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), a frequent attendee. “We’ve been very pleased by the responsiveness of the administration.”

The White House hopes that Congress will pass climate and energy legislation this fall, before officials head to international climate talks in Copenhagen. Failing to make significant progress before the December meeting could signal to developing countries that the United States is not serious about cutting its own emissions, making it harder to negotiate an international global warming treaty.

Pelosi lost 44 Democrats in the House, a luxury Reid can’t afford. The White House would need the support of every Democrat in the Senate to overcome a GOP filibuster threat, given that only a few Republicans are expected to support the bill.. To give themselves more time, Senate Democratic leaders last week pushed back to September the timeline for the six committees with jurisdiction over climate legislation to finish work on the bill.

Advertisements

Leave a Comment »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: