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Wisconsin's Herb Kohl joins a coalition of moderate Senate Democrats

Lawmakers have historically lost clout in Washington when they don't march with their party's leadership.

But that's not stopping Wisconsin's Herb Kohl and 15 others from forming what they call the Moderate Dems Working Group.

Kohl says the group will keep a critical eye on what goes through the Congress, to try and be more fiscally responsible in achieving the party's goals.

Liberals are not pleased. Robert Borosage of the Campaign for America's Future says Kohl and the others will have a price to pay if they knock down some of President Obama's agenda.

Those coalitions tend to have more power in the Senate where 60 votes are often needed to get anything accomplished.

Rep. Ron Kind, D-La Crosse, has also moved toward the center, saying it's where the American electorate is.

Kind says moderates don't necessarily oppose Obama's agenda, but they want the details to be good for the nation.

Kohl is especially concerned about the cap and trade measure that would limit industrial pollution and cause firms like utilities to buy more credits from less-polluting smokestacks, thus raising electric rates.

He says coal-polluting states like Wisconsin would be hurt the most.

Last week, Kohl and Wisconsin Democrat Russ Feingold both voted against letting cap and trade pass with only 50 votes.