Cornyn to Kerry: Try hitting some singles instead of home-run energy legislation

A Republican senator on Sunday said he would work with Democrats on limited energy proposals but warned against a comprehensive energy and climate bill that congressional leaders want to push this summer.

“We need to be very careful here,” Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) said on ABC's "This Week" as he responded to a call from Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) that Congress use the Gulf Coast oil spill to advance sweeping energy and climate legislation.

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Cornyn urged Kerry to think small.

“I think rather than try to hit a grand slam home run, I’d like to work with Sen. Kerry and others to try to hit some singles,” said Cornyn, who heads the National Republican Senatorial Committee. He mentioned nuclear power, improved battery technology and expanded natural gas production as areas that could form the basis of an energy bill.

His comments came days after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) told Democratic committee chairmen to send him their ideas for energy legislation, with the goal of passing a bill this summer. Kerry, who appeared on “Face the Nation” alongside Cornyn, is the co-author of legislation -- with Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) -- that would both expand alternative energy production and seek to limit greenhouse gas emissions to combat global warming.

Kerry rejected Cornyn’s suggestion that Congress abandon far-reaching legislation.

“We want to reach across the aisle and we want to reach accommodation, but let me tell you, you know, Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams and Babe Ruth never stepped up to bat in the World Series and said I want to try to hit a single,” Kerry said, offering a curious rebuttal to Cornyn’s baseball analogy that would likely meet with skepticism from baseball historians.

Cornyn relayed a frequent Republican criticism of the Kerry-Lieberman bill: that its effort to put a price on carbon amounts to an “energy tax” on consumers.

“If we do that then we’re going to kill a lot of jobs that currently exist,” he said.

Kerry said the carbon pricing was not a tax.

“Unfortunately there are some folks who call anything and everything that’s dreamed up in Washington a tax. There is no tax,” he said.

“This will not raise the cost of energy for most consumers,” Kerry added.