Ben Nelson: Cap-and-trade will not pass this Congress

A cap-and-trade bill to address climate change cannot pass the Congress this session, Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) claimed Friday.

Nelson, a centrist Democrat whose vote is key to leaders wielding its 60-vote majority in the Senate, said he and his constituents had not been sold on the cap-and-trade system proposed in House and Senate bills to address global warming.

"No," Nelson simply responded when asked if those cap-and-trade bills can pass through this Congress during an interview on CNBC.

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"I haven't been able to sell that argument to my farmers, and I don't think they're going to buy it from anybody else," Nelson said.  "I think at the end of the day, the people who turn the switch on at home will be disadvantaged."

The pessimistic assessment makes Nelson a thorn in the side of his party's leaders on climate change legislation, one of their top priorities, as they assiduously court his vote on another key proposal, healthcare reform.

On that issue, Nelson was reluctant to fully stand behind the Senate health bill as has currently been proposed, but said he is working to find a way to support the legislation.

"I don't know that we should conclude that some form of healthcare reform won't pass. I believe that some form will pass," he said. "I'm looking to find a way to vote for healthcare reform because we need it."