Grassley: Gore pushing cap-and-trade in 'religious way'

Former Vice President Al Gore is pushing lawmakers to pass climate change legislation with a "religious" fervor, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said Monday.

Grassley, who had previously expressed skepticism that climate change bill similar to that passed by the House late last month, stopped short of saying the legislation was dead in the Senate, thanks to efforts by Gore and other Democratic leaders.

"I didn't say it's dead," Grassley said during an interview on CNBC. "Because when you've Democrats that are leading this Congress, and Gore pushing them in the religious way he's pushing them, they're going to want to produce something."

Gore had worked the phones heavily before the House vote on the Waxman-Markey climate change legislation, which, among other things, would establish a cap on carbon emissions, with a tradable market in pollution offset permits.

"If it had trouble getting 219 votes in the House, it's going to have really big trouble getting 60 votes in the Senate at this point," Grassley added.

The Iowa Republican, the ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, said that Sen. Barbara Boxer's (D-Calif.) decision to delay action on the bill until after the August recess "tells you that there's some real trouble in the United States Senate on the global warming issue."

On healthcare, Grassley downplayed notions that not having a piece of reform legislation through the Congress by the end of 2009 would be a "setback" to President Obama's agenda. Grassley did say, though, that if the debate bleeds over into 2010, it could hurt Obama politically.

"I think that it will get out of the committee before the August recess," Grassley said. "But I don't see how, with the Sotomayor nomination coming before the Senate before we adjourn on August the 8th, that there will be time to get a bill through the Senate."

"I think he's expecting to sign a bill sometime this fall, and I think that could still be done," he added.