Sen. Brown: Climate bill can't pass without aid to manufacturers

Climate change legislation won't even get 50 votes in the Senate if possible harms to manufacturers in the bill aren't addressed, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) said Tuesday.

Temporary assistance will be needed to prevent American manufacturing jobs from relocating to India and China in order to address Rust Belt lawmakers' concerns about the climate bill, Brown said in a conference call organized by the liberal Campaign for America's Future.

"I don't think there's any way we get to even 50 votes if we don't deal with manufacturing in the climate change bill," Brown told reporters. "I do know for sure that there are a number of us who understand that manufacturing is so important to this country that if we don't do manufacturing right, our standard of living will continue to decline.

"We need some sort of border equalization — temporary, not permanent — until the Chinese and others move in the direction they need to on this issue," Brown added.

Among lawmakers' concerns is a sense that climate legislation in the U.S. would provide manufacturers with an incentive to relocate production overseas, where not only would they enjoy lower labor costs, they would also face far less stringent environmental regulations.

Brown called on President Barack Obama to get more aggressive on the regulatory imbalance on climate change and a number of other trade agreements during this week's G-20 summit in Pittsburgh.

"Leaders in Pittsburgh should go to lengths to not concern legitimate government intervention with protectionism," he said. "The public has already lost confidence in trade agreements and the way we approach globalization."

And while Robert Borosage, the president of the Campaign for America's Future, on Tuesday called for a second round of stimulus spending, Brown said it was still to early to say whether a new package would be needed — despite lawmakers' forecasts that they would know better later in the fall whether it would be needed.

"Unclear to me yet," Brown said of the need for a second stimulus. "We wanted the first stimulus yet to be a lot bigger. I think that we'll know more as we see the stimulus dollars continue to go out the door."