Schumer says Democrats will force votes on climate policy

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., says Democrats will use the Congressional Review Act to force votes on priority issues like climate change. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senate Democrats aim to force a floor vote on a Trump administration proposal to limit greenhouse gas emissions, which replaced a significantly more stringent Obama-era regulation, according to Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y.

The caucus will trigger a vote on the plan as part of a series of roll call votes that Democrats in the chamber plan to highlight bills and issues that they say Republicans, led by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., are ignoring, Schumer said Thursday.

Other issues Democrats plan to take up include gun safety, political spending, election security and healthcare, Schumer said.

“For months, Senator McConnell and Senate Republicans have shunned vital proposals to improve American’s lives, including those to address the climate crisis and gun violence epidemic, save protections for people with pre-existing conditions, secure our elections, get big special interest money out of politics and more,” Schumer said in a statement.

Schumer said that the caucus would force votes under the Congressional Review Act, which allows Congress to overturn a regulation or federal rule within 60 days of it being finalized. Under the CRA, only 30 senators need to demand a vote on a regulation to get on the Senate calendar.

Both parties have used the law to chip away at regulations drafted by administrations of rival political parties. In 2017, Senate Republicans deployed the CRA to rescind some federal rules from the Obama administration.

The Environmental Protection Agency finalized in June the emissions rule Democrats plan to challenge. The regulation, called the Affordable Clean Energy rule, is a watered-down version of the Clean Power Plan, an Obama-administration policy to address domestic emissions from utilities.

A group of Democratic attorneys general sued EPA over the plan in August.

“The ACE rule presents a major step backward for the United States’ clean energy future, putting downwind states like Maryland at greater risk of pollution generated elsewhere,” said Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin, D-Md..

When McConnell held a vote in March on the Green New Deal, a sweeping resolution to overhaul the U.S. economy, society and public works, Democrats abstained to avoid a potentially difficult vote with their constituents.

Schumer appears to be maneuvering in kind by forcing Republicans to cast their votes on a regulation that weakens the regulation of air pollution.

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