U.S. Reps. Tammy Baldwin and Paul Ryan offered differing views on whether carbon cap-and-trade legislation would pass Congress this year at Monday's 3rd annual Focus on Midwest Energy summit.
Baldwin, D-Madison, said she believes Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid remains committed to passing the bill and that an unusual working group of Massachusetts Dem John Kerry, South Carolina Republican Lindsay Graham and Connecticut independent Joe Lieberman are working on a new version of the legislation that passed the House last year.
"Perhaps a fresh approach is just what the doctor ordered," Baldwin said. She expressed hope that the eventual Senate legislation would take Wisconsin and other coal-dependent states into greater account that the House version.
"Transforming to a new energy economy will not be easy for our state," Baldwin acknowledged. "But I have no doubt that Wisconsin will meet the challenge."
Although she remains hopeful about the federal energy bill, she expressed frustration about the pace of the Senate with regard to a host of issues already passed by the House -- from health care to education to jobs bills. Although she noted that Wisconsin's senators are not part of that problem, Baldwin said she is "very frustrated."
"What matters most right now is that we keep at it and we get the job done," Baldwin said.
Ryan later said cap-and-trade is dead for this session and likely next session, too.
Ryan declared the bill the House approved won't make it through the Senate because Dems don't have a filibuster-proof majority any more. Even if Dems retain the majority for the next session, their majority will be smaller and they won't be able to break a filibuster next year, either.
Ryan said in the meantime, Congress should open up ANWAR, oil fields off the nation's coast and natural gas fields "right under our feet" to help move the country toward energy independence. The proceeds from those leases could then be used to help develop clean energy sources, said Ryan, also advocating more nuclear power be part of the nation's mix.