Midwest Dems push for tariff provision in climate bill causes debate

The Charleston Gazette

A group of Midwestern Democrats is pushing for tariffs on products from countries that don't limit greenhouse gas emissions, a controversial step the legislators say is needed to help American manufacturers survive expected emissions restrictions here.

The Democrats say the measure would level the playing field for U.S. factories, which will likely face increased energy costs due to global warming legislation backed by the Obama administration. The legislation narrowly passed in the House in June and is now pending in the Senate.

The tariff demand has placed a group of often-reliable allies for President Obama -- including Sens. Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Russ Feingold of Wisconsin and the newly installed Al Franken of Minnesota -- squarely at odds with the president, who has insisted he doesn't want to send "protectionist" signals with the climate-change bill.

But Brown said shortly before convening a climate summit earlier this month in Perrysburg that the tariff provision "has to be in" to win the votes of factory-state senators.

It's "about jobs, and it's an opportunity to fix some of our problems in manufacturing, and one of those is the way we've conducted trade in this country," Brown said.

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