Although EPA’s allies are trying to sell the message that last week’s failure to rein in the EPA (through the McConnell amendment and budget deal riders) is some sort of validation of what the agency is doing, the reality is much different.
Senate Democratic leadership was apparently concerned that Obama was poised to cave on the anti-EPA riders to get a budget deal — a well-founded concern that we had detected in late-February.
As reported by Environment and Energy Daily, a “long-time climate observer” told the publication,
“I think the fact that you were not seeing definitive statements from the administration in the context of the CR indicates that … the administration was at least keeping its options open in regards to keeping that rider in the budget deal.”
So Senate Democratic leadership stalled a vote on the McConnell amendment in order to rustle up alternative — i.e., phony — amendments that would allow Senate Democrats to vote against EPA without supporting the McConnell amendment. The 50-50 vote failure of the McConnell amendment then, in turn, apparently stiffened Obama’s knees and doomed the EPA riders in the budget deal.
As reported by E&E News,
A Democratic aide said his party’s leaders intentionally stalled a vote to handcuff EPA for weeks, allowing it and a handful of alternatives to come to the floor immediately before leaders of the Democratic Senate and Republican House entered final negotiations on funding the federal government through the end of fiscal 2011.
House Republicans had passed language to bar EPA from moving ahead with greenhouse gas regulations as part of their own continuing resolution, and many hoped it would be included in the final version as well. But decisions on the climate rider and other EPA language fell late in the negotiations, after the Senate votes.
“The fact that those votes were scheduled and happened was not a coincidence,” the aide said.
The 112th Congress has not seen the last effort to get a grip on the EPA. Perhaps next time, Harry Reid and the Obama EPA will be the ones out-maneuvered.