Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell launched a new push to thwart President Obama’s climate agenda on Wednesday, suggesting that Congress may be able to block regulations to curb power-plant emissions using an obscure provision of the Clean Air Act.
So far, McConnell’s most high-profile effort to sink the regulatory regime that stands as the centerpiece of the president’s climate agenda has been a campaign urging states not to comply with the rule.
But during a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing with Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy on Wednesday, McConnell suggested that section 102(c) of the Clean Air Act could allow Congress to check the administration’s authority to enact the regulation. The provision applies to multi-state pacts that derive from the Clean Air Act.
“The law reads: ‘No such agreement or compact shall be binding or obligatory upon any state unless and until it has been approved by Congress,” McConnell said, adding: “Doesn’t seem ambivalent to me.”
McConnell continued: “I can assure you that as long as I’m majority leader of the Senate, this body is not going to be signing off on any backdoor energy tax.”
McCarthy defended the regulation, saying: “I believe we are acting under the authority Congress gave us in the Clean Air Act.”
The EPA administrator added that the agency has given states “tremendous flexibility” to comply with the rule and said that she is “more than happy to take comment and to work with any governor of any state at any time.”
Obama is all but guaranteed to veto any legislative attempt at sabotaging the rule. The president’s former climate adviser, John Podesta, has said that attacks on the rule “have zero percent chance of working.”
But the regulation faces a wide array of challenges in Congress, in the courts, and in the states.
McConnell asked McCarthy how the administration plans to respond to the fact that all of Kentucky’s leading gubernatorial candidates have said they will not comply with the regulations, which call on states to design a plan to cut power-plant emissions.
“I assume you will have to wrestle with that,” the majority leader cautioned, adding that other nations “should proceed with caution into the December 2015 climate talks in Paris” in light of challenges to the rule.
Last month, McConnell argued in an op-ed that states should not comply with the rule, calling it “unfair” and “probably illegal.”
The top-ranking Senate Republican has gotten a boost in his push to discredit the regulation from lauded constitutional scholar and former mentor to Obama Laurence Tribe.
Earlier this month, Tribe outlined arguments against the rule at a case heard before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, the first of what is expected to be an onslaught of legal challenges to the regulation.
What We're Following See More »
"The Justice Department inspector general referred its finding that former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe repeatedly misled investigators who were examining a media disclosure to the top federal prosecutor in D.C. to determine whether McCabe should be charged with a crime." The referral occurred "after the inspector general concluded McCabe had lied to investigators or his own boss, then-FBI Director James B. Comey, on four occasions, three of them under oath." The referral does "not necessarily mean McCabe will be charge with a crime ... although the report alleged that one of McCabe’s lies 'was done knowingly and intentionally.'"
A federal appeals court in Chicago "upheld a nationwide injunction against making federal grant funding contingent on cooperation with immigration enforcement." The three Republican appointees ruled that the Trump administration "exceeded its legal authority in trying to implement the new conditions without approval from Congress ... One judge on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals panel, Reagan appointee Daniel Manion, said he would narrow the injunction solely to protect Chicago. However, the two other judges assigned to the case said the nationwide injunction appeared to be justified."
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley "decided Thursday to delay markup" on a bill to protect Special Counsel Robert Mueller until next week. But he remains steadfast in his support for a committee vote, despite Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's "pledge to kill it" if it gets to the floor.
North Korea has expressed its commitment to 'complete denuclearisation' of the Korean peninsula and is not seeking conditions, South Korean President Moon Jae-in said on Thursday. ... South Korea announced on Wednesday that it is considering how to change a decades-old armistice with North Korea into a peace agreement as it prepares for the North-South summit this month." The leaders of the respective countries are also expected to connect a phone line so they can communicate directly.
"California reached an agreement with the federal government that the state’s National Guard troops will deploy to the border to focus on fighting transnational gangs as well as drug and gun smugglers, Gov. Jerry Brown said. ... Brown said Wednesday he secured federal funding for terms similar to those outlined in last week’s proposed contract: The Guard cannot handle custody duties for anyone accused of immigration violations, build border barriers or have anything to do with immigration enforcement."