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Obama Encourages Democrats on Climate Change Effort

President Barack Obama on Tuesday told House Energy and Commerce Committee Democrats that he backs their determination to move swiftly to pass an energy bill that includes a carbon cap-and-trade program.

While Obama did not appear to specifically endorse the panel’s goal of Congressional passage this year, committee members left the session with the impression that he does not object and was not concerned movement on energy would interfere with the progress of his top priority, a health care overhaul.

“The president said success breeds success,— Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) told Roll Call after the meeting.

Waxman said he plans to mark up the energy bill and move it through the committee by Memorial Day, an aggressive timetable. Finishing the legislation would clear the decks for consideration of a health care bill, he said.

Obama “supports an aggressive timetable,— said Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), an Energy and Commerce member who is close to the president.

Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) expressed confidence that passing a climate change bill through the Energy and Commerce Committee will give the issue momentum in the Senate.

Markey noted that committee Democrats face regional and other issues that divide them on energy and that bridging those differences could serve as a template for success in the Senate.

Waxman also announce that panel Democrats have reached agreement on a “cash for clunkers— bill that encourages trade-ins of old cars for greener new ones.

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