Dem lawmaker proposes carbon tax legislation

“The American people care about the deficit and they’re worried about climate change -- and we can fix both without hurting the economy,” McDermott said in a statement. “My bill would reduce carbon emissions, and it returns all the money to consumers and deficit reduction. Businesses want this kind of predictability, consumers need to be protected, and we need to step up and address our climate and fiscal issues.”

Republicans opposed the effort precisely because of the economy.

"It's hard to believe that Democrats in Washington are introducing an energy tax on consumers, especially as Americans are out of work and the economy remains sluggish," Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), the ranking member on the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, said in a statement Thursday. "A carbon tax will mean consumers will pay more at the pump and more for energy in their homes. An energy tax is the last thing that Congress should be considering.”

Republican leadership last month shot down the idea of a carbon tax. They spoke out on the issue after hearing that the conservative think tank American Enterprise Institute was hosting informal discussions on the topic.