President Obama praised House Democrats today for "extraordinary progress" in their negotiations on global warming and energy legislation at the center of his domestic agenda.
"I want to take a moment, before I start talking about health care, just to congratulate Chairman [Henry] Waxman and the Energy and Commerce Committee Democrats, who've made such extraordinary progress in reaching a deal on comprehensive energy reform and climate legislation," Obama told reporters at the White House.
"This is a major step forward in building the kind of clean energy economy that will reduce America's dependence on foreign oil," the president added.
Obama spoke about the climate bill after meeting in the Oval Office with Waxman, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), Ways and Means Chairman Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) and Education and Labor Chairman George Miller (D-Calif.). The topic there was Obama's health care agenda, but Democratic efforts to reach consensus on an climate bill were not far behind.
Waxman yesterday released several details of an agreement on a comprehensive energy and climate bill, and he predicted its approval in the 59-member committee by the end of next week even without any Republican support.
Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas), the ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, predicted a fierce battle during next week's markup. "We will never surrender on any cap-and-trade proposal," he told reporters today. "If they take cap and trade off the table, everything else is negotiable."
Obama pivoted from his praise of Waxman to repeat a familiar message from the White House.
"I once again call on Congress to send me legislation that places a market-based cap on carbon pollution, which will then drive and incent for the kind of innovation and dynamic, new, clean energy economy that can create jobs and new businesses all across America," he said. "So this is an example of the extraordinary productivity that we're seeing over in the House right now."