Sen. Whitehouse likes carbon tax odds

Supporters of putting a price on carbon emissions may have a better shot with a GOP Senate, according to Sen. Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseGraham gets frustrated in public ‘unmasking’ debate Senate panel questions Lynch on alleged FBI interference Judiciary Committee to continue Russia probe after Mueller meeting MORE.

The Rhode Island Democrat, who on Wednesday introduced legislation to put a $42 per ton tax on carbon dioxide emissions, believes Republicans will have to meet his party in the middle next year on energy and environmental issues. 

ADVERTISEMENT
“They got a pass these past few years as the party of the minority that can be the loyal opposition throwing bombs ... and that is no longer true for them now that they are in the majority,” he said.

He also suggested that heading into the 2016 elections, Republicans could be more amenable to a carbon tax. 

Most Republicans have not been keen on a carbon tax, but the GOP has expressed an eagerness to take on the Obama administration’s carbon pollution rules for existing power plants.

Still, Whitehouse contends, Republicans will have to make some compromises if they want to take the White House in 2016. He also noted that the GOP faces a tougher Senate map that year, with incumbents up for reelection in Ohio, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania.

When asked which Republicans he may be able to turn to for support on such legislation, Whitehouse rattled off a few names.

Republican Sens. John McCainJohn McCainOvernight Defense: Senate panel passes defense policy bill | House panel presses on with markup | Trump officials say WH statement prevented Syria chemical attack | NATO pledges to raise spending Senate panel passes 0B defense policy bill GOP infighting erupts over healthcare bill MORE (Ariz.), Susan CollinsSusan CollinsHealthcare wish lists: What moderates, conservatives want Overnight Healthcare: GOP infighting erupts over bill | How Republican governors could bring down ObamaCare repeal | Schumer asks Trump to meet with Dems GOP infighting erupts over healthcare bill MORE (Maine), Mark KirkMark KirkGOP senator defends funding Planned Parenthood Why Qatar Is a problem for Washington Taking the easy layup: Why brain cancer patients depend on it MORE (Ill.) and Lindsey GrahamLindsey GrahamGOP senators want surveillance requests from FBI Russia probe Overnight Cybersecurity: New ransomware attack spreads globally | US pharma giant hit | House intel panel interviews Podesta | US, Kenya deepen cyber partnership Graham gets frustrated in public ‘unmasking’ debate MORE (S.C.) have all either been willing to sign on to carbon tax legislation in the past or have been willing to discuss it, Whitehouse said.

He also said Republicans should look at the tax as a way to put control back in the hands of Congress, offering his bill as a possible replacement to the administration’s carbon rules.

But Whitehouse said he doesn’t want the bill to be weaker than the standards proposed by the president, which mandate that power plants cut emissions 30 percent by 2030 from 2005 levels.