May 11, 2017

Timing was everything on surprise methane defeat

Robert F. Bukaty/AP

The GOP-controlled Senate's surprise failure to pass a rule repealing an Obama-era methane rule comes down to one simple thing: time.

"I think the worst influential force was time," said one well-connected oil-industry lobbyist who backed passage of the repeal.

Why it matters: Congress can only repeal recently completed regulations within a finite window, and that window was closing Wednesday.

Just days after President Trump was inaugurated, the GOP-controlled Congress agreed on several Obama-era rules it would seek to repeal using a law that allows it to overturn recently completed regulations. The methane rule was the very last up to bat, and the Senate didn't take it up until the last-minute.

The delay allowed groups like the Environmental Defense Fund and Taxpayers for Common Sense to keep pressuring moderate members from both parties on the issue from different angles: climate change and the environment (methane is a potent greenhouse gas) and taxpayer money (the rule requires companies to capture instead of inadvertently emit methane, the primary component of gas, from wells on federal lands).

Time allowed a group of Republican senators from states with big ethanol interests to conjure up a demand that they would only vote yes if they got a policy backing ethanol in return. This muddied the waters in the whip count, according to people familiar with the effort.

Time allowed for coincidental occurrences, including:

  • Some stakeholders speculated whether Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.), voted against the measure because he was upset about a separate nominee process. McCain said in a statement he voted against it because he thinks the government should regulate methane emissions.
  • Others speculated whether there was any collateral impact from the firing of FBI director James Comey. "It's not that I didn't think it last night," said Ryan Alexander, president of the taxpayers group. "I don't think that was the motivation for the three Republicans who voted with us."

Go deeper

Deadly clashes erupt in Delhi ahead of Trump's visit

Rival protesters over the Citizenship Amendment Act in Delhi, India, on Monday. Photo: Yawar Nazir/ Getty Images

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal called for calm Tuesday as deadly clashes erupted in the city's northeast between supporters and opponents of India's controversial new citizenship law.

Why it matters: Per the BBC, a police officer and six civilians "died in the capital's deadliest day" since last year's passing of the Citizenship Amendment Act — which allows religious minorities but excludes Muslims from nearby countries to become citizens if they can show they were persecuted for their religion — hours before President Trump and members of the U.S. first family were due to visit the city as part of their visit to India.

Go deeper: India's citizenship bill continues Modi's Hindu nationalist offensive

South Carolina paper The State backs Buttigieg for Democratic primary

Democratic presidential candidate and former South Bend Pete Buttigieg speaks at an event in Charleston, South Carolina on Monday. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

South Carolina newspaper The State endorsed former Southbend Mayor Pete Buttigieg on Monday night for the state's Democratic primary.

Why it matters: It's a welcome boost for Buttigieg ahead of Tuesday's Democratic debate in South Carolina and the state's primary on Saturday.

White House requests $2.5 billion to fight coronavirus as U.S. cases rise

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens.

The Trump administration sent a letter to Congress Monday requesting a funding commitment of at least $2.5 billion to help combat the spread of the novel coronavirus, as the number of confirmed cases in the U.S. rose to 53.

The big picture: As South Korea and Italy stepped up emergency measures in efforts to thwart the spread of the virus, WHO expressed concern about infections with no clear link to China. COVID-19 has killed at least 2,699 people and infected more than 80,000 others, with all but 27 deaths occurring in mainland China.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 2 hours ago - Health