President Barack Obama met with several senators, including seven Republicans, to gain their support for the recently introduced Kerry-Lieberman energy bill. Democrats will need support from across the aisle if there is any hope of climate change and energy legislation passing this year, and each of Republicans invited to the meeting offers an opportunity for compromise. Both Sens. John Kerry and Joe Lieberman were at the meeting. Sen. Lindsey Graham, who helped draft the bill but rescinded his co-sponsorship, did not attend the meeting. Here is a breakdown of the seven Republicans who sat with the president. Notably, Lisa Murkowski is the only Republican invited to the meeting who is up for reelection.


Alexander’s environmental record makes him a natural invite to the Obama meeting. In his home state, Alexander has worked to make sure the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) provides electric power that is “reliable and reasonably priced.” But Alexander has also criticized TVA for its poor pollution record. In 2006, Alexander introduced the Clean Air Planning Act, which was written to restore regulations that President George W. Bush rolled back. Alexander is not up for reelection until 2014. Alexander is also the cosponsor of a bill calling for electric vehicle incentives, including funding for battery research.


Like Alexander, Collins brings her own legislation to the table. Collins has joined with Sen. Maria Cantwell of Washington to draft legislation that would cap emissions, provide rebates for homes and restrict the trading of carbon allowances. Also, like Alexander, Collins is not up for reelection until 2014. Collins has a lengthy record of bucking party lines, including voting for the 2008 stimulus package.


The other “Maine Sister” has a history of taking a stand on climate issues. In 2005, Snowe co-chaired a group that called for a targeted temperature reduction. Snowe recently voted in favor of Murkowski’s attempt to keep the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from regulating carbon emissions. Snowe is also an advocate for the Collins-Cantwell plan. She is up for reelection in 2012, and while she has been a popular moderate, at least one policy blogs says she could be vulnerable to a tea party primary candidate. 


Murkowski is an interesting invite. The Alaska senator is most recently in the news for attempt to block the EPA from regulating greenhouse gasses. The Murkowski Resolution failed narrowly two weeks ago. While Murkowski gets consistently low ratings from the League of Conservation Voters, in 2007 she supported a limited cap-and-trade plan that included raising renewable fuel standards by 36 billion gallons by 2022. Murkowski may be a tough sell before her Aug. 24 primary where she faces an opponent who says climate change is a, “liberal theory based on dubious science at best.”


Sen. Lugar isn’t going anywhere. The popular Indiana Republican is up for reelection in 2012 and while he hasn’t made an announcement, he already has a reelection website. Lugar has proposed an alternative to the Kerry-Lieberman bill. The Lugar bill calls for boasting energy efficiencies for vehicles, reducing oil imports by boosting American oil production. Graham supports the Lugar bill. The bill calls for increasing nuclear power and providing incentives for coal power plants to get cleaner, but it does not set mandatory greenhouse gas emission standards and leaves out any carbon pricing mechanism. 


Voinovich is seen as sitting on the fence when it comes to the Kerry-Lieberman bill. Voinovich also plans to introduce a clean coal bill with Sen. Jay Rockefeller sometime this week. His bill calls for $850 million to be spent on research and development for carbon capture sequestration technologies. Voinovich is not running for reelection and is expected to retire after the 2010 mid-term elections. 

JUDD GREGG of New Hampshire:

Perhaps best known for jilting the Obama administration when asked to serve as a commerce secretary, Gregg is an interesting invite for two reasons: he is a moderate, and he isn’t running for office again. But Gregg’s recent votes show he may be a tough one for Obama to move. Gregg recently voted in favor of keeping Democrats from using reconciliation procedures, similar to their healthcare maneuvers, to pass a cap-and-trade bill. Gregg has also taken several stances to oppose limiting carbon emissions without similar commitments from India and China.

UPDATE: Following the meeting, Kerry briefly spoke to reporters saying, "We believe we have compromised significantly, but we are prepared to compromise further."  

MNN homepage photo: White House/Flickr  

Obama courts 7 Republicans to hash out energy bill
Only one of the Republicans is running in the 2010 midterm elections, but each is being courted for a number of reasons.