WASHINGTON – In an indication that Democrats could renew their push for climate change legislation this year, President Obama this afternoon said he would attempt to round up votes for legislation filed by Senator John Kerry.
Obama, speaking at Carnegie Mellon University, urged the US Senate to take action on a bill that aims to reduce reliance on foreign oil while putting a price on carbon emissions. It was the fourth time in 12 days that Obama urged the Senate to act, comments that come in the wake of a massive oil spill in the Gulf Coast.
“Pittsburgh, I want you to know, the votes may not be there right now, but I intend to find them in the coming months,” Obama said. “I will make the case for a clean energy future wherever I can, and I will work with anyone to get this done, and we will get it done. The next generation will not be held hostage to energy sources from the last century. We are not going to move backwards, we are going to move forward.”
The comments immediately won plaudits from Kerry and Senator Joe Lieberman, who together filed energy and climate change legislation last month. The legislation has faced several hurdles, including no Republican support and a busy calendar ahead over the next two months before Congress leaves. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is planning to decide soon on whether to bring the climate change legislation to the floor this year, or if he will push for a smaller package. He has also pledged to take up an immigration overhaul this year.
“President Obama is clearly putting his shoulder to the wheel to pass comprehensive climate and energy legislation this year,” Lieberman and Kerry said in a joint statement. “Nothing could be more definitive than his explicit commitment today to find the remaining votes needed to pass this vital legislation.”
While critics have suggested that the oil spill has only added to the political uncertainty of passing the legislation this year, Kerry has argued that it makes the case more strong that alternative sources of energy should be promoted. President Obama also seemed to make that case this afternoon.
“Without a major change in our energy policy, our dependence on oil means that we will continue to send billions of dollars of our hard-earned wealth to other countries every month – including countries in dangerous and unstable regions,” Obama said. “In other words, our continued dependence on fossil fuels will jeopardize our national security. It will smother our planet. And it will continue to put our economy and our environment at risk.”
Matt Viser can be reached at email@example.com.
About Political Intelligence
Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.