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Democrats Ducking Vote on 'War on Coal' Amendment — for Now

The war over the "war on coal" has been postponed after Democrats pushed off a second fiscal 2015 spending bill in the Senate. Late Wednesday, the Appropriations Committee decided not to move forward as scheduled with Thursday's markup of the bill that funds the Energy Department, as well as water development projects. The move avoids a potentially problematic vote for Senate Democrats and the Obama administration that could have stopped the Environmental Protection Agency's bid to regulate carbon emissions from existing power plants — regulations that have the affect of targeting pollution from coal. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., crafted an amendment on the subject that he intended to offer to the Energy-Water appropriations bill. As noted previously, the breakdown of Democratic caucus members on the committee is such that he would have had a real chance to prevail. The move to remove the Energy-Water measure from Thursday's agenda means it will join the Labor-HHS-Education bill in a sort of legislative purgatory, perhaps relying on eventual inclusion in a catch-all spending package later in the year. Democrats previously decided against moving ahead with the Labor-HHS bill, despite advocacy from that subpanel's chairman, Iowa Democrat Tom Harkin.