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The Edge

The Edge: Coal Regs Could Make Democrats Sweat

September 20, 2013

The Edge is National Journal's daily look at today in Washington -- and what's coming next. The email features analysis from NJ's top correspondents, the biggest stories of the day -- and always a few surprises. To subscribe, click here.

Coal Regs Could Make Democrats Sweat

One overlooked issue that fueled the GOP's 2010 House victory was the cap-and-trade vote, which badly hurt Democrats from energy-producing districts. President Obama's plan to enact new carbon limits on power companies will be a fresh headache for Democrats running in coal states.


The development is welcome news for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who preemptively introduced legislation Thursday to block the Environmental Protection Agency's regulations. His Democratic challenger, Alison Lundergan Grimes, has distanced herself from the administration's position but risks losing votes without a more aggressive posture.

Democrat Terry McAuliffe could be most impacted, given the closeness of the Virginia governor's race. He hasn't taken a position on the new regulations, and has been all over the map on energy issues. He's making a play for southwestern Virginia votes, saying Republican Ken Cuccinelli sides with energy companies over landowners. But the EPA decision amplifies Cuccinelli's countercharge that Democrats are hostile to coal.

Unlike 2010, coal is unlikely to be a majority-maker for the GOP next year. But if all politics is local, it could play a decisive role in several contests.

Josh Kraushaar


OBAMA TOUTS ECONOMIC VISION, BLASTS GOP IN SPEECH. Appearing at a Ford plant near Kansas City, Mo., the president said "the debate that's going on in Congress is not meeting the test of helping the middle class."

HOUSE GOP PASSES BILL FUNDING GOVERNMENT, DEFUNDING ACA. The measure, passed 230-189, goes to the Senate dead on arrival. But GOP House leaders have a playbook and look ready to respond.

COULD THE U.S. AND IRAN REPAIR RELATIONS AT U.N. SUMMIT? President Obama and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani may meet briefly in New York next week during a convening of the U.N. General Assembly, which could mark "a symbolic but significant step toward easing their countries' tense relationship."

  • Two weeks removed from a ferocious debate on using military force against Syria, Obama is unexpectedly wading through the opening stages of two diplomatic initiatives with some of the biggest U.S. foes in the Middle East.

NAVY YARD SUSPECT STRUGGLED RECENTLY. Officials are investigating whether a workplace dispute may have contributed to the Monday rampage.

HOUSE GOP TURNING AWAY FROM SPENDING CUTS IN DEBT-CEILING FIGHT. Speaker John Boehner is telling members the focus will instead be on pushing reforms that carry indirect savings through economic growth.

  • GOP members have an extensive wish list for what they hope to gain from the debt-ceiling fight, including a tax code overhaul and approval of the Keystone XL pipeline.

SYRIA BEGINS DECLARING ITS CHEMICAL-WEAPONS ARSENAL. The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons received an "initial declaration" today that outlines Syria's chemical-weapons program.

WHITE HOUSE ROLLS OUT LIMITS ON COAL EMISSIONS. The Environmental Protection Agency released a draft regulation meant to limit carbon pollution from coal-fired power plants.

  • Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin and Jay Rockefeller, both of West Virginia, pushed out competing reactions to the EPA emissions standards.

POST FED-FUELED RALLY, MARKETS LOSE MOMENTUM. A global surge fizzled by the end of the week as U.S. stocks fell for a second straight day after some indexes hit all-time records following the Federal Reserve's decision to hold off on bond tapering.

WHERE THE GOP'S WONDERLAND IS REAL. Republicans rule with unchecked power in North Carolina—and they're using the state to bring all of their long-held dreams to life.


Please note: This is not a comprehensive list of Sunday show guests, and lineups are subject to change. Please consult network websites for details.

  • Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the National Rifle Association, will issue his first public comments since the Navy Yard shooting on NBC's Meet the Press.
  • Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, will discuss GOP efforts to defund the Affordable Care Act on FNC's Fox News Sunday. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., will weigh in on the budget battle, the Syria situation, and her efforts on gun control.
  • Reps. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., and Tom Graves, R-Ga., will appear on ABC's This Week.
  • House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., will appear on CNN's State of the UnIon.
  • Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Tom Coburn, R-Okla., Rep. Matt Salmon, R-Ariz., and former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger will appear on CBS's Face the Nation.


"Does anybody remember Charlie Sheen when he was kind of going crazy.... And he was going around, jumping around saying 'Winning, winning, we're winning.' Well I kind of feel like that, we are winning. And I'm not on any drugs." -- Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., saying Republicans have won recent battles with Democrats (NBC)


ONE SIZE DOESN'T FIT ALL? In 2010, Sci Academy and its founder, Ben Marcovitz, were recognized by Oprah Winfrey during a segment on high-performing charter schools. But the New Orleans school—given a 'B' rating by the Louisiana Department of Education—still faces some major challenges. As of fall 2012, 10 percent of Sci Academy graduates who matriculated to four-year colleges or universities had dropped out or transferred to a junior college. College might not be for all students, but Louisiana puts a premium on schools whose students score higher on college-entrance exams, and "there is no plan B in the college-for-all charter universe."


USING BITCOINS TO MAKE ENDS MEET. Jesse Angle, a 42-year-old homeless man in Pensacola, Florida, subsists with the help of food stamps and the digital currency he earns by watching YouTube videos. Angle says earning bitcoins is "a lot less embarrassing" than panhandling. "You don't have to put yourself out there."


FACT MEETS FICTION. An interactive feature allows you to discover which fictional character shares your birthday. Today's birthday boy: Capt. Malcolm Reynolds of Firefly, born Sept. 20, 2048.


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