Disapproving the Disapproval

As you might have heard, late yesterday afternoon, the Senate voted 53-47 to reject a procedural motion that would have allowed a vote on Senator Murkowski’s disapproval resolution: a long-winded way of saying that, for now, the EPA maintains its authority and scientific finding that greenhouse gases endanger public health and welfare. 

As Seth noted a few weeks ago, the political dynamics of this vote are complex, bringing together strange bedfellows and inviting interesting predictions about what happens next.  On the one hand, environmental groups are claiming victory in the resolution’s failure, which breaks down pretty closely along party lines: all 41 Republicans and six Democrats voted in favor.  On the other hand, some moderate Democrats who voted against the resolution are now rallying behind another bill that would restrict EPA’s authority.  That bill, which would create a two-year delay for implementation of EPA climate rules for stationary sources was introduced in March by Senator Rockefeller of West Virginia, who himself voted in favor of the Murkowski resolution.

To further add to the strangeness, it’s the narrowness of the vote that is being lauded by Senate Majority Leader Reid, who told reporters after the vote, "it’s obvious people want some rules and regulations."

But what rules and regulations do they want?  That’s the real question of the hour.  Perhaps after next week’s full Democratic caucus, we’ll have a better idea, at least about what rules and regulations might be likely to come to a floor vote.

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