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Vote Set on Blocking EPA from Regulating Greenhouse Gases

May 25, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

Despite Sens. John Kerry [D, MA] and Joe Lieberman [I, CT] recently proposing a new framework for comprehensive energy and climate change legislation designed to win bipartisan support, it’s looking increasingly likely that there just isn’t enough support in the Senate for passing such a bill this year. If that is in fact the case, the Environmental Protection Agency, as part of the Obama Administration’s efforts to fight climate change, is planning to use a 2007 Supreme Court ruling giving them authority over greenhouse gasses to put new caps on emissions from automobiles and power plants.

That is unless Sen. Lisa Murkowski [R, AK] succeeds at blocking the EPA from taking action by passing her proposed resolution of disapproval S.J.Res.26. According to the New York Times, Murkowski and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid [D, NV] have struck a deal to allow the resolution to come up for a vote on June 10. The Times notes that under the agreement the resolution will not be susceptible to a filibuster, which means that it will only take 51 votes to pass. The resolution already has 41 co-sponsors, three of which are Democrats.

Last year, the current Senate went down on the record as overwhelmingly skeptical of capping greenhouse gas emissions by voting 89-9 on a budget resolution amendment from Sen. John Thune [R, SD] that would, according to a press release, “prohibit the collection of funds from any future cap and trade proposal if that proposal would increase electricity rates and gasoline prices for American households and businesses.”

Even if Murkowski’s amendment passes, it will still have a steep uphill climb to actually take effect and block the EPA from regulating greenhouses gases. First, the House would have to follow the Senate in passing a resolution of disapproval. A similar bill from Rep. Ike Skelton [D, MO-4], H.J.Res.76, has already been introduced, and it has 48 co-sponsors, including 25 Democrats. But even if both chambers pass resolutions disapproving of the EPA’s plans to regulate greenhouse gases, President Obama would still have to sign it into law. Obama basically created the plan to have the EPA take action on climate change, so he would almost certainly veto the resolution. A veto override takes a two-thirds majority vote in both the Senate and the House. That seems highly unlikely, to say the least.

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