Senate Rejects Plan to Restore Obama Rules Aimed at Climate Change

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Senate last week defeated a Democratic bid to restore the Obama administration’s “Clean Power Plan,” which was aimed at reducing carbon emissions by coal- and natural gas-fired electricity plants.

Senators voted 41 for and 53 against in the Oct. 17 vote, with both Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby and Sen. Doug Jones voting against the change.

President Trump in March 2017 ordered a rollback of the previous administration’s many-pronged, federal-state plan for addressing global warming caused by power plants.

On this vote, the Senate defeated a measure (SJ Res 53) that sought to kill an Environmental Protection Agency rule putting his directive into effect. Power-plant emissions make up about one-third of greenhouse-gas discharges in the United States and are the nation’s largest source of carbon pollution, according to the EPA.

Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Trump’s policy “will allow big polluters to wreck our air, dirty our water and poison our earth with little or no accountability. …Time is running out for the United States to meet the existential threat posed by climate change.”

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said “workers in my state know better than anyone the true cost of the (Obama) administration’s misguided war on coal. Kentucky workers know what happens when plants that create jobs and generate affordable electricity … are simply shut down.”

Here’s how area members of Congress voted on other major issues during the legislative week ending Oct. 18.


Condemning Troop Withdrawal From Syria:

Voting 354 for and 60 against, the House on Oct. 16 adopted a nonbinding resolution (HJ Res 77) condemning President Trump’s decision to abruptly remove U.S. troops from Syria. The measure also called on Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, to halt his country’s attacks on Kurdish forces that began after American forces stood down in northeastern Syria.

The resolution was backed by all 225 Democrats who voted and by 129 of the 189 Republicans who voted. Four members answered “present,” which indicates they participated in the roll call without taking a stand. They are Republicans Bob Gibbs of Ohio, Jody Hice of Georgia and Chip Roy of Texas and independent Justin Amash of Michigan.

Jason Crow, D-Colo., said the message sent by Trump’s decision “is that the American handshake doesn’t matter. Our withdrawal is an abdication of our moral responsibility to the Kurds and undermines the belief that America is a resolute partner. It has also led to our adversaries like Russia, Iran, the Assad regime and ISIS exerting greater influence in the region.”

Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., said: “The blood of America’s patriots is among our nation’s most sacred currency, and it must be spent only when absolutely vital to protect American interests. We are not the world’s police force. We are not the world’s piggy bank. I support an America-first foreign policy, and I oppose this resolution.”

A yes vote was to send the resolution to the Senate.


Voting yes: Martha Roby, R-2, Mike Rogers, R-3, Robert Aderholt, R-4, Gary Palmer, R-6, Terri Sewell, D-7 

Voting no: Bradley Byrne, R-1, Mo Brooks, R-5

Public Reporting of U.S. Jobs Sent Abroad:

Voting 226 for and 184 against, the House on Oct. 18 passed a bill (HR 3624) that would require publicly traded companies to annually report to the Securities and Exchange Commission the number of people they employ in each foreign country, each U.S. territory and each of the 50 states. The geographical breakdowns would enable investors and consumers to assess the extent to which American corporations are exporting jobs and relocating employees within the United States. In part, this would enable the public to determine the extent to which domestic layoffs are attributable to outsourcing.

Sponsor Cindy Axne, D-Iowa, said her bill would “disincentivize companies from outsourcing and … lying to the public and employees about it. If a company knows the information will be disclosed, they’ll think twice about such unpopular actions.” The bill also would “give investors and consumers the information they need to identify companies that are supporting American jobs,” she said.

Patrick McHenry, R-N.C., said: “The information sought by (the bill) would at best tell an incomplete story and at worst could be deeply misleading. The only possible explanation for this bill is to use the information to try to shame public companies. It is unclear to me how shaming companies benefits the everyday investor or encourages companies to…create jobs in the United States.”

A yes vote was to send the bill to the Senate.


Voting yes: Sewell

Voting no: Byrne, Roby, Rogers, Aderholt, Brooks, Palmer


Affirming Trump Border Emergency:

Voting 53 for and 36 against, the Senate on Oct. 17 failed to override President Trump’s veto of a measure (SJ Res 54) that would nullify a national emergency he declared on the southwest border over immigration concerns.

The vote affirmed the Feb. 15 emergency declaration, which he has used as authority for diverting $3.6 billion appropriated for military construction at bases domestically and overseas to a non-military account for building 175 miles of border barriers. Override forces needed a two-thirds majority of senators voting to prevail.

Override supporter Susan Collins, R-Maine, said the question presented by Trump’s veto “is not whether you are for a border wall or against a border wall. …The question is simply: Do we want the executive branch, now or in the future, to hold the power of the purse, a power the founders deliberately entrusted to Congress?”

No senator spoke on the other side of the issue.

A yes vote was to override the veto.


Voting yes: Jones 

Voting no: Shelby 


In the week of Oct. 21, the House will take up bills to prevent foreign interference in U.S. elections and the infusion of Russian “dark money” into American campaigns. The Senate will debate fiscal 2020 appropriations during the week.