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Rep. Ted Deutch (D.-Fla.) Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Divisions are surfacing between the bipartisan leaders of a House caucus on climate change.

Driving the news: Democrat Rep. Ted Deutch told Axios in an interview Thursday that carbon tax legislation introduced this week by GOP Rep. Carlos Curbelo that has the backing of two other Republicans, is a “missed opportunity” to pursue a bipartisan measure.

The intrigue: Deutch expressed frustration about the state of play of a bipartisan caucus on climate change that the two Florida lawmakers founded together in 2016. Deutch said he’s been working for several months with Republican offices on different legislation that prices carbon, and that Curbelo choosing to go in his own direction muddies the waters.

  • “I just think there is a missed opportunity here since we’ve been working to come up with a bipartisan product,” Deutch told Axios by phone as he boarded a plane to Florida for a congressional break until early September.

For the record: A Curbelo spokeswoman said the congressman's bill has support across the political spectrum. "Congressman Curbelo is firmly committed to advancing this legislation, but is also open to considering and supporting ideas from other colleagues," spokeswoman Joanna Rodriguez said Thursday. "He doesn't care who gets credit. He just wants to see much-needed progress on these critical issues."

The big picture: Any type of bill pricing carbon emissions is very unlikely to get far in the foreseeable future, due to conservative opposition by most Republicans and interest groups. But Curbelo’s bill, introduced Monday, is still politically significant because it’s the first substantive measure on climate change authored by a Republican in nearly a decade.

One level deeper: Midterm politics are inevitable.

  • Curbelo’s swing district at the tip of Florida is a top target for Democrats to take in the upcoming midterm elections.
  • Ensuring climate measures are bipartisan will be more difficult if moderate Republicans like Curbelo lose this cycle.
  • Deutch indicated his top priority is Democratic control of the House: “What I want more than anything is a Congress willing to step up and take action on climate change,” Deutch said. “That’s more important to me than a conversation across the table.”
  • He went on to say that if Democrats win control of the House, the chamber wouldn’t cast votes like it did last week. In particular: a resolution condemning a carbon tax, which most of the 42 Republican members of the bipartisan climate caucus supported.

What’s next: Deutch still hopes he and other members of the caucus will introduce the bipartisan measure pricing carbon emissions in September when they return from the congressional break. If they don’t, Deutch isn’t so optimistic.

  • “I think a lot of people are going to throw up their hands," Deutch said. "The conversations are great, but we’ve got to do something.” He added, though, that he still plans to continue the caucus after the election.

Go deeper

46 mins ago - World

World leaders react to "new dawn in America" under Biden administration

President Biden reacts delivers his inaugural address on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

World leaders have pledged to work with President Biden on issues including the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change, with many praising his move to begin the formal process for the U.S. to rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement.

The big picture: Several leaders noted the swift shift from former President Trump's "America First" policy to Biden's action to re-engage with the world and rebuild alliances.

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

In photos: The Biden and Harris inauguration

President Biden and first lady Jill Biden watch a fireworks show on the National Mall from the Truman Balcony at the White House on Wednesday night. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

President Biden signed his first executive orders into law from the Oval Office on Wednesday evening after walking in a brief inaugural parade to the White House with first lady Jill Biden and members of their family. He was inaugurated with Vice President Kamala Harris at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday morning.

Why it matters: Many of Biden's day one actions immediately reverse key Trump administration policies, including rejoining the Paris Agreement and the World Health Organization, launching a racial equity initiative and reversing the Muslim travel ban.

Republicans pledge to set aside differences and work with Biden

President Biden speaks to Sen. Mitch McConnell after being sworn in at the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday. Photo: Erin Schaff-Pool/Getty Images

Several Republicans praised President Biden's calls for unity during his inaugural address on Wednesday and pledged to work together for the benefit of the American people.

Why it matters: The Democrats only have a slim majority in the Senate and Biden will likely need to work with the GOP to pass his legislative agenda.