WASHINGTON — As Congress tackles President Barack Obama’s top two domestic priorities — climate change and health care — he faces some of his most serious challenges from fellow Democrats.
The narrow passage Friday of an environment bill came with nearly one in five Democrats defecting, and only after supporters from coal-producing and agriculture districts won concessions that eased the impact on business and aggravated some environmentalists. Prospects for the measure remain uncertain in the Senate, even though Democrats hold a 59-40 voting majority.
Some Democratic defections were to be expected. Republicans’ argument that the cap-and-trade program would effectively impose a national energy tax on consumers and businesses was a message likely to resonate in conservative congressional districts won by moderate Democrats in the past two elections.