Democrats Vow to Combat Global Warming

By William Branigin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, January 19, 2007; 4:16 PM

Democratic leaders in Congress vowed today to push forward with legislative efforts to combat global warming and promote energy independence, issues that they said have not been adequately addressed by President Bush because his administration has been "overwhelmed" by the war in Iraq.

In a news conference at Washington's National Press Club ahead of Bush's State of the Union speech on Tuesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) also denounced Bush's plan to send 21,500 additional U.S. troops to Iraq and called for greater efforts to reach a political solution there.

Reid warned Bush against launching U.S. military action against Iran without congressional approval and said the way to deal with that country's ruling Shiite Muslim hard-liners is to connect with young Iranians and pursue energy independence in the United States.

Bush, meanwhile, worked on his State of the Union speech, which is expected to include an announcement on expanding the production and use of alternative fuels. And fellow Republicans heard an exhortation today to stick to core party values as they set their sights on the 2008 elections.

"It is important to our children's health and their global competitiveness to rid this nation of our dependence on foreign oil and Big Oil interests," Pelosi told the news conference today. "Taking bold measures today to achieve energy independence within 10 years must be the highest priority for this Congress."

She said the Democratic-controlled House would work with the global religious, business and scientific communities to "continue robust research on global warming and produce policies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions while simultaneously creating good-paying jobs."

Democrats want to work with Bush on this issue in a bipartisan way, "but we cannot afford to wait," she said. She pledged passage of "groundbreaking legislation that addresses global warming and energy independence."

Reid said that America's "dangerous dependence on oil" is among a number of national security challenges that have not been adequately confronted "because this administration has been all-consumed and, frankly, overwhelmed by its own failed policies in Iraq."

He said Bush's plan to send additional troops to Iraq would be tested in both houses of Congress in voting on a nonbinding resolution that opposes the buildup as contrary to U.S. national interests.

"The answer in Iraq is not to double down, literally to do more of the same," the Nevada Democrat said. "The answer is to find a new course that brings this war to an end."

U.S. troops in Iraq "will get everything they need" from Congress, Reid said. "It is the president who will find he no longer has a blank check. The days of a rubberstamp Congress are over."

In interviews at the White House with local television stations, Bush challenged his Democratic critics to come up with an alternative to his planned troop surge in Iraq.

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