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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 WhitehouseCommittee chairman aims for House vote on opioid bills by Memorial Day Regulators seek to remove barriers to electric grid storage Prison sentencing bill advances over Sessions objections 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. 

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“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 Sidney McCainLawmakers worry about rise of fake video technology Democrats put Dreamers and their party in danger by playing hardball Trump set a good defense budget, but here is how to make it better MORE (Ariz.), Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsOvernight Tech: Judge blocks AT&T request for DOJ communications | Facebook VP apologizes for tweets about Mueller probe | Tech wants Treasury to fight EU tax proposal Overnight Regulation: Trump to take steps to ban bump stocks | Trump eases rules on insurance sold outside of ObamaCare | FCC to officially rescind net neutrality Thursday | Obama EPA chief: Reg rollback won't stand FCC to officially rescind net neutrality rules on Thursday MORE (Maine), Mark KirkMark Steven KirkHigh stakes as Trump heads to Hill Five things to watch for at Trump-Senate GOP meeting Giffords, Scalise highlight party differences on guns MORE (Ill.) and Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamCongress punts fight over Dreamers to March Pence tours Rio Grande between US and Mexico GOP looks for Plan B after failure of immigration measures 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.