WASHINGTON (CNN) – A sharply divided House of Representatives narrowly passed a White House-backed climate change bill Friday after hours of cajoling and arm-twisting by Democratic leaders among members worried about the legislation's potential economic and political fallout.
The bill passed 219-212, with virtually no Republican support.
The bill would reduce nationwide greenhouse gas emissions 17 percent by 2020 and 83 percent by 2050 through a so-called "cap-and-trade" program under which companies would buy and sell emissions credits.
Among other things, the bill would also require utilities to generate an increasing amount of power from renewable sources.
The House vote came one day after President Barack Obama made an urgent plea for congressional approval in what could be an early make-or-break test of his young administration.
"Now is the time for us to lead," Obama said during an appearance Thursday in the White House Rose Garden. "We cannot be afraid of the future. We cannot be prisoners to the past."
The president said the bill will spark a "clean energy transformation" of the U.S. economy and "make possible the creation of millions of new jobs."
"Make no mistake," he emphasized. "This is a jobs bill."
Several moderate and conservative Democrats indicated that they received heavy constituent pressure in the final hours to buck their party leadership and vote against the bill.
"I can't begin to tell you how many calls we've received," said Rep. Charlie Gonzalez, D-Texas. "And it's disproportionately vote 'no.'"
The congressman, who voted "yes," believes special interest groups generated many of the calls on both sides, including the late surge of negative feedback.
However, Gonzalez also said, Obama tried to counter much of that pressure by personally reaching out to swing members since Thursday night.
Republicans have argued that the bill would have the unintended consequence of devastating the country's battered industrial base while pushing polluting industries to countries with lower environmental standards.
Having cleared the House, the bill now faces an unclear future in the Senate, where Democratic leaders have held off on introducing their own version of the legislation.
–CNN's Lisa Desjardins and Evan Glass contributed to this report