For the sixth time since President Barack Obama took office, Senate Republicans failed to secure enough votes to roll back an administration policy today, falling short on blocking new emissions standards.
On a 46-53 vote, the Senate rejected a resolution of disapproval on the Environmental Protection Agency’s Utility MACT rule, which tightens the emissions standards for factories and has been viewed as a win for environmentalists and a loss for the coal industry. In the lead-up to the disapproval vote, sponsored by Environment and Public Works ranking member James Inhofe (R-Okla.), the effort became a cause célèbre for Republicans, with the Heritage Foundation and the tea-party-influenced FreedomWorks weighing in.
Five Democrats — Sens. Mark Warner and Jim Webb of Virginia, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Ben Nelson of Nebraska — voted with Republicans.
Five Republicans — Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine, Scott Brown of Massachusetts, Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee — joined Democrats in voting the measure down.
“This regulation would expand the already massive powers given to the EPA by increasing red tape and costing the taxpayer over $10 billion dollars each year,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said today on the floor.
McConnell said Obama’s policies are “undermining” the private sector and that the EPA “has become one of the lead culprits in this administration’s war on American jobs.”
For all their pointed rhetoric, however, Republicans have been woefully unsuccessful at overturning the policies they have so maligned.
Since June 2010, the Senate GOP has tried on five other occasions to attack Obama administration rules, twice on EPA rules regarding the Clean Air Act, on the Federal Communications Commission’s Internet and broadband regulations, on health care and on the National Mediation Board.
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.