Senior House Republicans are considering using a must-pass government funding bill to block President Barack Obama’s new rule to limit greenhouse gas pollution from coal-fired power plants.
Rep. Mike Simpson (R-ID), who chairs the Appropriations subcommittee on energy and water, told Bloomberg News the funding ban “will be” in the interior panel’s government funding legislation.
He isn’t the only influential Republican who’s interested in inserting a provision in appropriations legislation to prohibit implementation of the regulation unveiled this month by the Environmental Protection Agency.
Rep. Ken Calvert (R-CA), who chairs the subcommittee on interior-environment, said Republicans will “take a serious look at” barring funds for the EPA rule, according to Bloomberg. He said the inclusion of such a provision wouldn’t surprise him because “[t]here’s great interest from a lot of members.”
Congress has three and a half months before funding expires. Republicans could theoretically shift strategy and remove the provision before final passage on the House floor. Or they could pass it and spark a battle with Senate Democrats and the White House with the prospect of another government shutdown looming when the fiscal year ends on Sept. 30.
The coal regulation has become an animating force for Republicans on the 2014 campaign trail. GOP leaders claim the rule will hurt the economy (particularly in coal states like Kentucky); they paint it as executive overreach by the president; they insist it reveals Obama to be in thrall to environmentalists. Although the regulation of coal-fired power plants is popular nationally, these are irresistible attacks for the GOP in the November elections, particularly in fossil-fuel states that could determine the balance of power in the Senate.
The problem is such a standoff could wind up damaging the GOP at the wrong moment.
“I can’t imagine them shutting down the government one month before midterm elections,” said a Democratic congressional aide.