Oct 10, 2019 - Energy & Environment

Senate Democrats plan to force vote on Trump's power plant emissions rule

Chuck Schumer

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Senate Democrats intend to force a roll call vote next week on EPA regulations that scrapped Obama-era carbon emissions rules for power plants and replaced them with a more modest alternative.

Why it matters: Floor votes on global warming are rare, and the bid to scuttle the Trump administration rule signals Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer's (D-N.Y.) increasing emphasis on the topic.

  • The planned vote comes roughly 2 weeks after Schumer said a sweeping climate bill would be "one of the first things we put on the floor" if Democrats regain the majority in the 2020 elections.

What's next: Schumer's office said Democrats would force a vote under the Congressional Review Act, a mid-1990s law that gives Congress power to overturn final regulations.

  • Resolutions under the law are immune from filibusters, meaning only a majority vote is needed for passage.

But, but, but: The move is very likely more of a messaging effort than a realistic chance at altering Trump administration policy.

  • Schumer's announcement says it will be the first of several on various topics, including healthcare, to show how GOP leadership has "turned the upper chamber into a legislative graveyard for priorities of the American people."

The big picture: Over the summer, the EPA issued final rules that require states to make coal-fired units more efficient over time, but the regulations lack binding CO2-cutting targets. They replaced a wider 2015 regulation, which never took effect, that sought to drive more wide-ranging power sector changes.

Go deeper: How the EPA's climate rule rollback could reach beyond coal

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