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Rockefeller to Get Vote on Delaying EPA Greenhouse Gas Regulation

Yesterday I noted that Harry Reid spent the day promising votes on a variety of issues. He decided to bring up the defense authorization bill, the one with the legislative repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell in it, and he said that the DREAM Act would get a vote as an amendment to that package. There were rumors that a stripped-down DISCLOSE Act would get a vote, too.

In addition, Reid is giving Jay Rockefeller an opportunity with a more distasteful vote, the bid to strip the EPA of greenhouse gas regulation for two years.

Following his weekly press briefing, Reid (D-Nev.) was asked if the Senate wold vote on EPA preemption.

“Not before we leave here,” said Reid, referring to the three-week congressional schedule ahead. “This year.”

Reid’s commitment to give preemption a vote this year means that it is headed to the Senate floor during a lame-duck session, meaning that lawmakers will be less accountable for their votes — and those who aren’t returning in January won’t be accountable at all.

This dates back to the fight that Lisa Murkowski (now sulking in Alaska) made over the EPA’s regulatory authority. Reid at that time said he would allow a competing amendment, from Rockefeller, to get a vote. Instead of stripping the EPA from this regulatory authority permanently, Rockefeller’s would last two years. The statement from Rockefeller’s aide is kind of priceless:

“Senator Rockefeller’s EPA Delay bill is gaining momentum every day in Congress. Rockefeller is fighting for legislation to suspend — for two years — harmful EPA regulations to regulate greenhouse gases because he believes that Congress — and not the unelected EPA — must be responsible for determining our nation’s energy policy,” a Rockefeller aide wrote in an email. “Rockefeller expects a vote on this important legislation this year and he is aggressively pursuing this in Congress.”

Harmful “EPA regulations,” not harmful greenhouse gases. I see.

The President has threatened to veto any bill that strips the EPA of this authority, and so I would expect him to do the same here. The only possibility of passage is if Rockefeller attaches it to some must-pass measure. Still, this should be a somewhat depressing take of the temperature of the Senate on the question of greenhouse gas emissions. The smart money would be down for passage.

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David Dayen

David Dayen

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