The House passed legislation on Thursday to amend a law already on the books governing federal cleanup of Superfund and hazardous waste sites.
The bill was approved on a party-line vote of 225-188, with only five Democrats supporting the measure, including Reps. Jim Costa of California, Collin Peterson of Minnesota, and Nick Rahall of West Virginia. The nill is not likely to be taken up by the Democratic-controlled Senate.
The legislation — the Reducing Excessive Deadline Obligations Act — is a combination of three separate measures introduced by Republican Reps. Cory Gardner of Colorado, and Bill Johnson and Bob Latta of Ohio. The package of bills would give states the ability to assign priority to Superfund cleanups managed by federal laws, impose state and local laws on federal cleanup projects, and block the Environmental Protection Agency from issuing regulations for hazardous waste disposal in states where similar regulations already exist.
House conservatives used the bill’s passage as a chance to put themselves on record in support of eliminating federal overreach in the environmental sector.
“We are five years into this failed experiment of increased government spending, taxation, and regulation,” Gardner said in a statement. “The results are clear: The power to grow our economy and put Americans back to work lies in the private sector. With more than 80,000 pages of new federal regulations published in 2013 alone, commonsense revisions of existing rules and regulations are a vital part of ensuring businesses that power our state and local economies are given the capability to grow.”
There was plenty of opposition to the legislation, however.
The White House issued a statement saying the president would veto the bill if it reached his desk. And more than 120 interest groups, including environmental advocacy organizations such as Earthjustice, the League of Conservation Voters, and the Natural Resources Defense Council, sent a letter to Congress opposing the measure.
The legislation “substantially increases the potential for harm in communities across the United States. As one in four Americans live within three miles of a hazardous-waste site, safe management and prompt cleanup of toxic waste sites are essential to our nation’s health and economy,” the signatories wrote.
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In light of his recent confessions, the speakership of Dennis Hastert is being judged far more harshly. The New York Times' Carl Hulse notes that in hindsight, Hastert now "fares poorly" on a number of fronts, from his handling of the Mark Foley page scandal to "an explosion" of earmarks to the weakening of committee chairmen. "Even his namesake Hastert rule—the informal standard that no legislation should be brought to a vote without the support of a majority of the majority — has come to be seen as a structural barrier to compromise."
Even if "[t]he Republican presidential nomination may be in his sights ... Trump has so far ignored vital preparations needed for a quick and effective transition to the general election. The New York businessman has collected little information about tens of millions of voters he needs to turn out in the fall. He's sent few people to battleground states compared with likely Democratic rival Hillary Clinton, accumulated little if any research on her, and taken no steps to build a network capable of raising the roughly $1 billion needed to run a modern-day general election campaign."
Rep. Dave Young can't even refuse his own paycheck. The Iowa Republican is trying to make a point that if Congress can't pass a budget (it's already missed the April 15 deadline) then it shouldn't be paid. But, he's been informed, the 27th Amendment prohibits him from refusing his own pay. "Young’s efforts to dock his own pay, however, are duck soup compared to his larger goal: docking the pay of every lawmaker when Congress drops the budget ball." His bill to stiff his colleagues has only mustered the support of three of them. Another bill, sponsored by Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN), has about three dozen co-sponsors.
Sixty miles away, in Sandusky, Ohio. "We're pretty bitter about that," said Harmeet Dhillon, vice chairwoman of the California Republican Party. "It sucks to be California, we're like the ugly stepchild. They need us for our cash and our donors, they don't need us for anything else."
Anyone looking forward to seeing some boldfaced names on the client list of the late Deborah Jeane Palfrey, the "DC Madam," will have to wait a little longer. "The Supreme Court announced Monday it would not intervene to allow" the release of her phone records, "despite one of her former attorneys claiming the records are “very relevant” to the presidential election. Though he has repeatedly threatened to release the records if courts do not modify a 2007 restraining order, Montgomery Blair Sibley tells U.S. News he’s not quite sure what he now will do."