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Obama wants cap-and-trade passed

From NBC's Athena Jones
Americans must face the future, President Obama argued Thursday, as he urged members of Congress from both parties to come together to pass an energy bill aimed at limiting greenhouse gas emissions.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said she plans to bring the cap-and-trade bill to a vote in the House of Representatives on Friday -- a vote Obama said would be "of historic proportions" when he took to the Rose Garden podium to make his case to Congress and to the American people.

Video: House Democrats are set to vote Friday on a controversial energy and climate bill that faces near unanimous opposition by Republicans. Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-S.C.  and The Wall Street Journal's Jon Hilsenrath discuss.

With a jobless rate that has reached the double digits in several states -- from California to Michigan -- and some 6.74 million people receiving unemployment insurance nationwide, Obama focused his pitch for the bill on its ability to create good jobs that cannot be exported.

"Make no mistake: This is a jobs bill," Obama said. "We're already seeing why this is true in the clean energy investments we're making through the Recovery Act."

He cited a solar plant in California that he says 3,000 people will help build, a wind project in Michigan that will create more than 2,600 jobs and solar projects in Florida that will employ 1,400 people to illustrate his point.

The bill -- which the president said had attracted a "remarkable coalition" of coalition of consumer and environmental groups, labor and business leaders and members of both parties -- would set limits on carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions. Polluters would be able to buy and sell emission allowances.

House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH), said the legislation would ship jobs overseas and that it was pointless since the United States could not control harmful emissions in places like China and India.

In his remarks, Obama returned to a theme he has used frequently in framing his administration's goals, saying he wanted to build a strong economic foundation for the country in the 21st century and he urged all members of Congress to support the bill.

"I know this is going to be a close vote, in part because of the misinformation that's out there that suggests there is somehow a contradiction between investing in clean energy and our economic growth," he said. "But my call to those members of Congress who are still on the fence, as well as to the American people, is this: We cannot be afraid of the future and we can't be prisoners of the past."

Billionaire investor Warren Buffett

has also criticized the legislation, telling CNBC the bill amounted to a tax on energy, because utilities would past the costs of compliance on to consumers.

Still, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs expressed confidence this afternoon that it could pass.

"We like where we are now, and I'd bet on the president," he told reporters.