Senate casts tie vote on McConnell-Inhofe EPA GHG amendment

Nick Snow
OGJ Washington Editor

WASHINGTON, DC, Apr. 7 -- Both sides claimed victory after the US Senate cast a 50-to-50 vote on Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Environment and Public Works Committee Ranking Minority Member James Inhofe’s (R-Okla.) amendment to halt the US Environmental Protection Agency’s imposition of greenhouse gas controls under the Clean Air Act. The measure did not pass because it fell 10 votes short of a required 60-vote majority.

The Senate’s vote came as the US House opened debate on Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton’s (R-Mich.) similar bill. Inhofe and Upton released a draft of their bills at a joint press conference on Feb. 4 and introduced the measures on Mar. 3. The House was expected to continue debating Upton’s proposal on Apr. 7.

Democrats Mary L. Landrieu (La.), Joe Manchin (W.Va.), Ben Nelson (Neb.), and Mark L. Pryor (Ark.) joined the Senate’s 46 Republicans in support of the bill. McConnell and Inhofe separately said following the vote that when combined with votes earlier in the day on two other proposals to delay EPA’s GHG regulation implementation, 64 senators supported restraining to some degree the agency’s ability to regulate carbon emissions under the CAA.

Inhofe, who introduced the original bill, said he would press for more votes. “When all is said and done, a bipartisan majority in the Senate issued a sobering message to EPA: Its cap-and-trade agenda is wearing thin, suggesting it’s time to reverse course to put Congress back in charge of America’s energy policy,” he declared.

Environment and Public Works Committee Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), who led the opposition, said the Senate’s rejection of all four amendments avoided an unprecedented repeal of CAA protections.

The law has had strong bipartisan support since Congress passed it and then-president President Richard M. Nixon signed it on Dec. 31, 1970, she said. “The American people support EPA’s efforts to safeguard us from polluters, and I will continue to fight any effort to weaken the [CAA],” Boxer said.

In a statement following the Senate’s votes, American Petroleum Institute Pres. Jack N. Gerard said support for the four amendments showed bipartisan support for restraining EPA’s implementation of GHG regulations under the CAA. He urged US President Barack Obama to work with this coalition and reach an agreement.

“The president himself has called for the elimination of federal regulations that are overly burdensome on businesses trying to create jobs, and EPA’s [GHG] regulations should be at the top of that list,” Gerard said. “Congress has rightfully taken steps to restore the intended purpose of the [CAA] by protecting aspects of the law that improve air quality while stopping the EPA from overreaching its authority.”

Contact Nick Snow at

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