Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer was prevented this week from protecting a highly restrictive carbon emissions rule put in place at the Environmental Protection Agency under the Obama administration.
According to the Washington Examiner, the Democrats’ Thursday attempt to block the Trump administration from repealing and replacing the rule was unsurprisingly stymied in a 53-41 vote on the Senate floor.
The GOP holds a 53-47 majority in the upper chamber, but not all 53 votes in opposition to Schumer’s long-shot proposal were cast by Republicans.
Instead, it was the votes of three red-state Democrats that assured full implementation of the Trump EPA’s new rule.
Hailing from states with historically conservative leanings, the three senators have surprised many with a number of controversial bipartisan efforts — particularly Manchin, who faced severe backlash from his progressive colleagues for his support of Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court confirmation last October.
Another major casualty of the partisan mud-slinging of the Kavanaugh confirmation, however, was Sen. Susan Collins of left-leaning Maine, who broke ranks her Republican colleagues on Thursday to throw support behind Schumer’s proposal.
A well-known maverick with a track record of bipartisanship on the Senate floor, Collins railed against the administration for “reversing the progress” toward cleaner energy alternatives supposedly made under President Barack Obama, The Hill reported.
“I think they made a grievous error in reversing the progress that we were making on clean power, so I do not support overturning those rules,” Collins said.
Jones agreed with Collins in statements made after the vote, arguing the rule was a step in the wrong direction in terms of climate policy.
Nevertheless, the Alabama Democrat voted in opposition, claiming he voted solely on the basis of a disagreement with Schumer’s employment of a rarely used process to force a floor vote on the issue.
“I don’t like this flip-flopping back and forth between this administration and the next. We have to get stakeholders at the table,” Jones said.
“Folks in Alabama are concerned as well [about climate change],” he added. “We just have to do it in the right way.”
Despite the rhetoric, votes like Thursday’s have led some to believe that senators like Collins and Jones may simply be seeking to hedge their bets and garner popularity among centrist opposition voters with hotly contested re-election campaigns getting underway.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, however, was not hung up each member’s rationale — demanding before a single vote was cast that senators consider the economic consequences blocking the ACE rule would have on the low- and middle-income Americans.
“We know the full effects of the CPP would have stretched far beyond coal country. Its ripples would have been felt by Americans paying their power bills,” McConnell said. “Lower-income and minority populations would have been hit hardest by the double-digit energy increase in 4 of every 5 states.”
“Unfortunately,” McConnell added, “we know there is a considerable appetite to inflict huge economic hardship on American workers and families just so we can better comply with this new green religion.”
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