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 Whitehouse6 months in, GOP tax bill an utter flop Live coverage: FBI chief, Justice IG testify on critical report GAO to look into Trump's reduction of carbon social costs 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 McCainMulvaney aims to cement CFPB legacy by ensuring successor's confirmation Trump mocks McCain at Nevada rally Don’t disrespect McCain by torpedoing his clean National Defense Authorization Act MORE (Ariz.), Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsSenate Gang of Four to meet next week on immigration Republicans agree — it’s only a matter of time for Scott Pruitt Skyrocketing insulin prices provoke new outrage MORE (Maine), Mark KirkMark Steven KirkThis week: Trump heads to Capitol Hill Trump attending Senate GOP lunch Tuesday High stakes as Trump heads to Hill MORE (Ill.) and Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamSenate panel advances three spending bills Trump says he will sign executive order to end family separations Trump backs narrow bill halting family separations: official 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.