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 WhitehouseInfrastructure spending should not facilitate sawing down our National Forests Garland vows prosecutions 'at any level' over Jan. 6 To save America's democracy, Democrats need to start acting like Republicans 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 Sidney McCainKelly takes under-the-radar approach in Arizona Senate race Voting rights, Trump's Big Lie, and Republicans' problem with minorities Sinema, Manchin curb Biden's agenda MORE (Ariz.), Susan CollinsSusan Margaret Collins'All or nothing' won't bolster American democracy: Reform the filibuster and Electoral Count Act Voting rights, Trump's Big Lie, and Republicans' problem with minorities More than 30 million families to lose child tax credit checks starting this weekend MORE (Maine), Mark KirkMark Steven KirkBiden's relationship with 'Joe-Joe' Manchin hits the rocks Let's fix America's accounting problem — starting with Build Back Better Duckworth announces reelection bid MORE (Ill.) and Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamKyrsten Sinema's courage, Washington hypocrisy and the politics of rage Hillicon Valley: Amazon's Alabama union fight — take two McConnell will run for another term as leader despite Trump's attacks 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.