McConnell Promises Spending Standoff Over Obama’s Green Agenda

The GOP leader stopped short of an explicit shutdown threat, but he did say a Republican majority would use the budget to go after EPA’s environmental rules.

The smoke stacks at American Electric Power's (AEP) Mountaineer coal power plant in New Haven, West Virginia, October 30, 2009. In cooperation with AEP, the French company Alstom unveiled the world's largest carbon capture facility at a coal plant, so called 'clean coal,' which will store around 100,000 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide a year 2.1 kilometers (7,200 feet) underground. 
National Journal
Ben Geman
Aug. 20, 2014, 10:16 a.m.

If Re­pub­lic­ans take back the Sen­ate next ses­sion, Sen. Mitch Mc­Con­nell is prom­ising his party will use budget bills to at­tack Pres­id­ent Obama’s policies””and he’s spe­cific­ally call­ing out the pres­id­ent’s en­vir­on­ment­al agenda.

“We’re go­ing to pass spend­ing bills, and they’re go­ing to have a lot of re­stric­tions on the activ­it­ies of the bur­eau­cracy,” Mc­Con­nell told Politico in a newly pub­lished in­ter­view. “That’s something he won’t like, but that will be done. I guar­an­tee it.”

Mc­Con­nell cited work done by the En­vir­on­ment­al Pro­tec­tion Agency as a po­ten­tial tar­get, and while his of­fice did not re­spond to an in­quiry over which spe­cif­ic policies he meant, there’s a laun­dry list of reg­u­la­tions he has tar­geted in the past. Mc­Con­nell, a de­fend­er of Ken­tucky’s coal in­dustry, is a per­sist­ent crit­ic of EPA’s plan to cut green­house gases from power plants. He has also gone after EPA and In­teri­or De­part­ment ef­forts to reg­u­late moun­tain­top-re­mov­al coal min­ing, and worked against the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s long­stand­ing prom­ise to redo reg­u­la­tions on coal ash and oth­er byproducts of coal-fired power plants.

The Ken­tucky Re­pub­lic­an, who is bat­tling for his own reelec­tion in the Bluegrass State, has called those rules a threat to coal-in­dustry jobs in his state and already floated plans to push for votes on anti-EPA amend­ments earli­er this year. In March Obama threatened to veto a House bill to block the power-plant reg­u­la­tions, which are a center­piece of his cli­mate-change agenda.

What re­mains un­clear is wheth­er Mc­Con­nell would be will­ing to press those spend­ing fights to the point of a gov­ern­ment shut­down. He did not spe­cific­ally prom­ise a shut­down show­down, but he did say his party would force Obama to make hard de­cisions re­gard­ing what spend­ing bills he’d be will­ing to ac­cept.

“He would have to make a de­cision on a giv­en bill, wheth­er there’s more in it that he likes than dis­likes,” Mc­Con­nell said.

If Obama won’t sign a fed­er­al spend­ing bill that con­tains the riders and Re­pub­lic­ans won’t vote for a bill that doesn’t, that could cre­ate a stale­mate sim­il­ar to the one that led to last fall’s im­passe.

That list of hy­po­thet­ic­als, The Hill re­ports, has not stopped Demo­crats from poun­cing on Mc­Con­nell’s com­ments””hop­ing to con­vert pub­lic frus­tra­tion over last fall’s gov­ern­ment shut­down in­to fun­drais­ing help with this fall’s elec­tion.

And as Quartz re­ports, “The only thing that would make con­gres­sion­al Demo­crats hap­pi­er than a Re­pub­lic­an at­tempt to im­peach Pres­id­ent Obama is if Re­pub­lic­ans force an­oth­er gov­ern­ment shut­down.”

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