Harry Reid is running scared. On Tuesday, Reid promised to allow a Senate floor vote on an amendment offered by Republican Leader Mitch McConnell that would stop the EPA from implementing President Obama’s failed global warming agenda by manipulating the 1970 Clean Air Act. This morning – fearing he would lose the vote – Reid confirmed he won’t allow it to happen until after next week’s recess.
On Tuesday night, as the McConnell Amendment was headed for a vote, Sen, Jay Rockefeller (D-W.V.) made a desperation ploy to derail the amendment. Rockefeller took to the Senate floor and asserted that McConnell’s amendment would forever prevent any federal action on global warming. Of course that’s silly, because Congress can always adopt a global warming bill if it has sufficient support to do so. That’s how our system is supposed to work.
That Congress hasn’t passed a global warming bill is all the more reason EPA should not be allowed to move forward on its own. Rockefeller put forward his own amendment that would allow delay some of the EPA’s global warming regulations temporarily. It was meant to create enough political cover to stop the McConnell Amendment. It didn’t work.
Even with Rockefeller’s ploy, Reid still didn’t have the votes to stop the amendment. So he stalled.
All day yesterday, it looked like the Senate was headed for a vote. But Senate Democrats were in disarray. Many of them know it would be politically disastrous to vote to allow Obama’s EPA to accomplish through regulatory subterfuge what Congress and the American people already rejected in last year's cap-and-trade debate and the November 2010 midterm elections.
Last night -- for the second night in a row – Harry Reid stalled. This morning he confirmed that – despite his prior promise – he will not allow a vote this week. Next week the Senate is in recess for a “state work period,” which Reid hopes will give him time to convince wavering senators not to stand up to the EPA. It also, however, gives free market activists, consumers, and taxpayers a chance to make their case against Obama’s backdoor global warming agenda and to demand their senators stand up for them.
The stakes are huge. Remember Obama’s words: “Cap-and-trade was just one way of skinning the cat; it was not the only way.” The cat he wants to skin through EPA action? American energy consumers and businesses. He told us so when he explained “Under my plan of a cap-and-trade system electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket.”
Any senator who intends to oppose the McConnell Amendment will have to explain to citizens why they want to outsource our energy and economic future to unelected bureaucrats in the EPA – especially at a time when the economy remains weak and EPA regulations threaten to destroy millions of more American jobs. If the Senate refuses to stop the EPA, the biggest winners will be our global competitors like China and India.
It will take 60 votes to stop the EPA.
The U.S. Constitution is unambiguous. It’s spelled out right after the preamble in Article I, Section 1: “All legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.”
When the Senate gets back from its recess it will be put to the test of whether each senator is willing to take responsibility for writing the laws and protecting American jobs. That’s what’s at stake as the Senate considers the McConnell Amendment.
Let's do everything we can to keep the heat on.
Phil Kerpen is vice president for policy at Americans for Prosperity and the author of the forthcoming book "Democracy Denied" (BenBella Books, October 18, 2011).