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Senate Democrats focus on Gulf oil spill response

WASHINGTON (AP) – Senate Democrats on Thursday gave up plans to attempt to pass an energy-global warming bill that caps greenhouse gases, abandoning a priority of President Barack Obama.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said no Republican was willing to back a comprehensive energy bill, a development he called “terribly disappointing.”

Democrats have been trying for more than a year to pass a plan that charges power plants and other large polluters for their heat-trapping carbon emissions, which contribute to global warming.

The House voted 219-212 last year for a “cap and trade” plan featuring economic incentives to reduce heat-trapping gases from power plants, vehicles and other sources.

Republicans slammed the bill as a “national energy tax” and jobs killer, arguing that the costs would be passed on to consumers in the form of higher electricity bills and fuel costs that would lead more manufacturers to take their factories offshore.

Moderate House Democrats who voted for the bill, particularly freshmen from Republican-leaning districts, are among the GOP’s top takeover targets in the November election.

In recent weeks, Senate Democrats floated a more modest approach that would limit the carbon tax to the electricity sector. That plan, which drew support from the White House and words of encouragement from Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine, was never formally proposed. But it, too, failed to attract the 60 votes needed to advance it in the 100-member Senate.