The House of Representatives is expected to vote shortly on a measure that would radically redefine the way the country uses and pays for energy.
The bill would establish a cap and trade system to regulate the emissions of carbon dioxide, in which emitters would be allowed a certain allotment of permits and could sell those that are unused or buy more if they're needed.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., told reporters Thursday that she expected the "historic" measure to pass.
"I am very proud of the bill. I think it takes us in the direction we want to go," she said. "This is an environmental bill to reduce emissions, and it will. It is a health bill to reduce pollution, and it will. It is an economic issue — as I said, it will create jobs."
Pelosi added, "It is in our national security interest to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. As I said, it's a moral issue to preserve our planet."
However, House Republicans have railed against the measure, saying it amounts to a national energy tax that they say will cost American jobs, encouraging companies to send jobs to countries where emissions are unregulated.
Republican conference chairman Mike Pence, R-Ind., said the measure amounts to an "economic declaration of war" against the Midwest, where coal-fired power plants make up the bulk of electric plants.
President Barack Obama weighed in strongly in favor of the measure Thursday, calling it essential to make America the nation that leads the global economy in the 21st century.
Obama also lobbied undecided Democrats personally in a series of phone calls to seek to secure passage of the measure.
by RTT Staff Writer
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