By Catherine Dodge
March 9 (Bloomberg) -- Senator Joseph Lieberman said lawmakers plan to complete a draft of climate-change legislation this month before taking an Easter break, as Republicans insisted the measure should be narrower than a House-passed bill.
Lieberman, a Connecticut independent, is working with Democrat John Kerry of Massachusetts and Republican Lindsey Graham of South Carolina to craft compromise legislation after proposals for a broad emissions-trading program drew criticism from both political parties.
“We’re still negotiating with a lot of people,” Lieberman told reporters. “The aim is to put a draft out,” by March 26.
The three lawmakers are part of a bipartisan group of senators meeting with President Barack Obama at the White House later today to discuss energy and climate proposals.
“The president is saying that, with all the other things going on around here, including health-care reform, energy independence and climate legislation are a priority item for him,” Lieberman said.
All the Republican senators invited to today’s meeting have “shown some interest in getting something done this year,” he said.
Senator Lisa Murkowski, an Alaska Republican who is attending, said Obama should give up on legislation that sets greenhouse-gas limits and support a bill that boosts renewable electricity generation and U.S. oil and gas production.
“I’d put a plug in for energy-only,” Murkowski told reporters. “We’re ready to go with an energy-only bill.”
Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine is also attending the meeting and said she would encourage Obama to abandon broader legislation passed by the House in June.
That bill authorizes a “cap-and-trade” system to curb fossil-fuel emissions while creating a market for trading pollution permits and funding investment in new energy sources.
“I’m encouraged that the president has called a broad bipartisan group of senators to the White House to talk about energy policy,” Collins said. “That’s the kind of approach that may actually lead to our being able to accomplish a bill.”
Republican Senator Richard Lugar, who is also among more than a dozen lawmakers going to the meeting, said he is drafting a “practical” energy plan with a national mandate for clean energy.
“I am proposing practical steps that save money and that everyone can support,” Lugar of Indiana said in a statement.
“We should concentrate this year on those policies that will save energy and money,” said Lugar. He said his proposal will include a national mandate for clean energy use that sets guidelines while giving states flexibility.
--With assistance from Simon Lomax and Kim Chipman in Washington. Editors: Jim Rubin, Robin Meszoly
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