The Wall Street Journal
March 11, 2009

WASHINGTON — Democratic leaders, including U.S. President Barack Obama’s top budget official, are considering a procedural tactic that could give them the power to ram a climate-change and energy bill through Congress.

[efoods]The administration and Democrats such as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid hope to avoid obstruction by the Republicans and centrist Democrats who fear the potential economic impact of legislation to curtail greenhouse-gas emissions.

The tactic is being discussed because of the dramatic impact of the bill: Collection of “climate revenues” from a proposed cap-and-trade system could represent a major source of future revenue for the federal government.

Democratic leaders are considering a process in the Senate known as “budget reconciliation,” meant to fine-tune the government’s expenditures and revenue later in the year, which needs only 51 votes compared with the standard 60 needed for contentious legislation.

Some leaders see the alternative as an option of last resort. Yet even having this option under consideration is raising the ire of many lawmakers and reveals how serious Mr. Obama is about passing a bill that axes greenhouse-gas emissions.

“Reconciliation is not the first place we would go, but we’re at the beginning of the discussion and aren’t going to take anything off the table at this point,” Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag said Tuesday after a budget hearing in the Capitol.

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