CLIMATE:

White House still hopes to pass bill this year -- Browner

The White House is "deeply disappointed" that Congress hasn't passed climate legislation but won't give up on getting it done this year, President Obama's top climate and energy adviser said yesterday.

Carol Browner said on NBC's "Meet the Press" that the administration is still holding out hope for a legislative victory on climate and energy, despite the political challenges of passing a controversial bill through the Senate after the chamber returns from its August recess.

"The Congress is coming back. We will continue to see if we can get legislation," she said. "We passed it in the House. We'll continue to work in the Senate."

Browner said the bill could "potentially" be approved during a lame-duck session after the November election.

Obama said during an Oval Office address in June that he was open to a range of options for a comprehensive energy bill but that "the one approach I will not accept is inaction."

But Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.), chairman of the House Republican Conference, yesterday blasted Browner for considering using a lame-duck session to pass a climate bill. "That is outrageous," he said on "Meet the Press."

And Republicans are mounting their defenses against Democrats' possible push for big-ticket legislative items during a lame duck.

Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) will seek a vote this week on a resolution asking Congress to agree not to pursue controversial bills like energy and climate during such a session.

"Congress should pledge to those who have elected them that they will not circumvent the basic rule of accountability by pursuing, after the fact, legislation that the American people do not want and which our economy cannot afford," Price said last week in a statement.

When the House of Representatives returns this week, "I hope Democrats will join Republicans in passing my no lame duck resolution and pledging to the American people that Washington is ready and willing to listen to their voices," he said.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) took the unusual step of calling the House back from its August recess briefly this week in order to approve state aid legislation the Senate cleared last week.

Many lawmakers and political analysts say passing a sweeping climate and energy bill this year will be a long shot.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) last month stripped his oil-spill response and energy package of greenhouse gas emission limits and a renewable electricity standard, saying he could not muster the needed 60 votes for them. Last week, he said there is a chance he will bring back a broader bill in the fall, but getting additional votes may get even tougher as the November election approaches and political pressure intensifies on Capitol Hill.

But even advocates of greenhouse gas curbs acknowledge that a lame-duck push for a climate bill will be a tough slog.

"Barring a surprise, it's going to be very hard, even in a lame-duck session, to get 60 votes for a carbon cap," climate bill co-author Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) said last week. "It's not impossible, but it's very hard."

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