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 WhitehouseSheldon Whitehouse leads Democrats into battle against Trump judiciary Bill aims to help farmers sell carbon credits GOP chairmen stake out turf in Obama-era probes 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 McCainKelly holds double-digit lead over McSally in Arizona: poll Montana barrels toward blockbuster Senate fight How Obama just endorsed Trump MORE (Ariz.), Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsOVERNIGHT DEFENSE: Murkowski, Mattis criticism ratchets up pressure on GOP over Trump| Esper orders hundreds of active-duty troops outside DC sent home day after reversal | Iran releases US Navy veteran Michael White Murkowski, Mattis criticism ratchets up pressure on GOP over Trump GOP Sen. Murkowski 'struggling' with whether to vote for Trump MORE (Maine), Mark KirkMark Steven KirkOn the Trail: Senate GOP hopefuls tie themselves to Trump Biden campaign releases video to explain 'what really happened in Ukraine' Why Republicans are afraid to call a key witness in the impeachment inquiry MORE (Ill.) and Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamBill aims to help farmers sell carbon credits Graham postpones Russia probe subpoena vote as tensions boil over Graham pushes back on Mattis criticism of Trump: 'You're missing something here, my friend' 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.