Climate advocates: White House meeting shows Obama engaged in Capitol Hill push

“I think the president has called the meeting because he wants us to move, because he wants this on the agenda,” Kerry told reporters Tuesday in the Capitol. “And I think he wants to listen and see where the process is at.”

“I am glad to see the president involve himself personally at this point,” Kerry added.

Kerry is working with Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) on compromise bipartisan energy and climate bill that is expected to break sharply with the sweeping “economy-wide” cap-and-trade bill the House approved.

“I presume the president will use it as an opportunity to state his commitment that we adopt bipartisan energy independence, job-creating climate change legislation,” Lieberman said today.

White House officials have been reaching out to lawmakers.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) – who is attending the meeting and has offered an alternative climate bill with Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) – said she met Monday with White House climate czar Carol Browner at Browner’s request.

One major question is how the outcome of the health care debate will affect efforts to craft a bipartisan climate deal.

Collins said that the Democrats’ plan to use budget reconciliation – a procedural maneuver that allows legislation to clear the Senate with a simple majority vote – could hinder subsequent efforts on other bills.

“If the administration continues with its plan to jam the health care bill through the Senate using reconciliation, I think it will have an adverse impact on all of the legislative agenda for the year,” she told The Hill.

Lieberman said the Senate trio that’s working on a bill is not expected to divulge new details of their proposal at the meeting, Lieberman said.

The plan has been discussed mostly in broad strokes to date, but is expected to impose a cap-and-trade system initially confined to utilities, while a separate fee of some sort would be used to address motor fuels. Other industrial plants like factories would be brought under an emissions cap-and-trade system at a later date.

Lieberman cautioned that the plan is not yet set.

Mary Landrieu (D-La.), one of the senators that Kerry, Graham and Lieberman are courting, said there have been just “general concepts” discussed thus far but that she hopes to see documentation of their plans soon.

Lieberman told reporters that the three senators hope to produce a draft bill before Easter recess.