(AP) — Despite setbacks on Capitol Hill, President Barack Obama said Tuesday he still supports the need for broad climate legislation and pledged to keep pushing for it. The White House expressed fresh hope the Senate and House might strike a deal on a sweeping energy plan this year.

Lacking the votes they need in this election year, Senate Democrats have abandoned Obama's goal of a bill that would cap the greenhouse gases blamed for global warming. Instead, Democrats hope to pass a narrower measure that responds to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and takes steps to improve energy efficiency.

"I want to emphasize it's only the first step," Obama said in the Rose Garden after a meeting with congressional leaders of both parties. "And I intend to keep pushing for broader reform, including climate legislation."

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs later went further, disputing the notion that a climate bill is dead for the year. He suggested that such a comprehensive bill could be negotiated between House and Senate members once, as the White House hopes, the Senate approves a scaled-back energy bill in the coming days.

The measure in the Senate drops the language from the House dealing with climate change and carbon emissions. By dropping those controversial measures, Democrats hope they can pass a bill through the Senate before lawmakers leave for the August recess, according to thehill.com.

It remains unclear how Democrats could muster the votes in the Senate to get even a version of that bill approved.

Republicans slammed the House 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 manufacturers to take their factories overseas.

Source: Associated Press, thehill.com