Senate Democrats have cast doubt that President Barack Obama can achieve his intention of finding the votes to pass comprehensive climate legislation this year. To overcome a Republican filibuster, Obama needs to mobilize the entire Democratic caucus and find at least one Republican senator willing to cross the aisle on behalf of the nation. On June 2, Obama told Pittsburgh that “the only way the transition to clean energy will ultimately succeed” is “by finally putting a price on carbon pollution”:
The votes may not be there right now, but I intend to find them in the coming months. I will continue to make the case for a clean energy future wherever and whenever I can. I will work with anyone to get this done — and we will get it done.
Despite growing climate calamities during the hottest year ever recorded in modern history and the catastrophic destruction of the Gulf of Mexico from oil pollution, election-year politics, Republican obstruction, and the grip of fossil interests on Congress make Obama’s task of finding 60 votes to cap carbon pollution a great challenge. In fact, many Senate Democrats are openly doubting Obama’s pledge, even though experts agree such publicly popular legislation would create jobs, cut energy bills, grow the economy, strengthen national security, and protect the planet:
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA): “I’d support it, but I don’t see 60 votes for it.” [Politico, 6/17/10]
Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO): “I don’t see 60 votes for a price on carbon right now.” [E&E; News, 6/18/10]
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT): “For a variety of reasons, with virtually no Republicans supporting us, it would mean that every Democrat has to step up to the plate. Do I think we have 60 votes to come up with strong global warming legislation? No. I think that’s a tragedy, but that’s the way it is.” [E&E; News, 6/18/10]
Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE): “There’s a better chance of having 60 votes with a straight energy bill.” [E&E; News, 6/18/10] Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV): “What’s the point of doing anything without 60 votes?” [The Hill, 6/10/10]
These Democrats evidently believe the pronouncements of fossil-fueled Republicans like Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) over the President’s intentions. But some are willing to fight against hypocrisy and inaction. “No, we don’t have the 60 votes yet; I know that,” Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), the author of the American Power Act, said June 15. “But we’re close enough to be able to fight for it.”