How disappointed will Republicans be to hear Barack Obama’s veto threat on bills moving through Congress to rein in the EPA? Not very. It isn’t the first time the White House has issued the threat, but with one of the bills coming from his own side of the aisle, it’s starting to sound more like a plea to keep from being put in that position:
The Obama administration Wednesday repeated its threat to veto legislation that would curb its ability to regulate greenhouse gases.
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson said that the White House continues to oppose any efforts from Capitol Hill to hamstring her agency on climate change.
“What has been said from the White House is that the president’s advisors would advise him to veto any legislation that passed that would take away EPA’s greenhouse gas authority,” Jackson told reporters on Capitol Hill. “Nothing has changed.”
EPA’s climate policies came under attack this week when Sens. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and John Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) – backed by a host of co-sponsors – rolled out bills Monday to hamstring EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.
A separate bill will come Wednesday afternoon from House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and the Senate’s top climate skeptic, Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.).
Republicans know that Obama will veto the bill. His strategy in the next two years will be to consolidate his legislative gains from 2009-10 and to expand his agenda through executive-branch regulatory adventurism. Despite his supposed rhetorical move to the center — which mainly failed to appear in his State of the Union speech — the EPA remains his one tool to crack down on domestic energy production.
In fact, Republicans are counting on a veto. They want that strategy to get out into the light, rather than occur through the normally dull process of regulatory expansion. The veto would only be the third of Obama’s term in office and would shine a bright spotlight on his regulatory expansion. Having a Democrat write one of these bills gives the effort an even higher profile, as well as make Obama look even more radical. Democrats that stick with Obama on this issue in the House and especially the Senate will do so at their own electoral peril.
Obama wants to stop Congress from sending him the bill in the first place, which is why he’s issuing the threat. It’s not likely to work, especially not with red-state Senate Democrats looking at 2012 re-election bids.
Update: Barbara Boxer plans to double down on defiance. According to The Hill, she wants Congressional hearings on climate-change skepticism:
Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Committee Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) is issuing a challenge to skeptics of climate change science: Bring it on.
Boxer said Wednesday that she’s expecting hearings on the issue.
She said Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), who is expected to head the panel’s oversight subcommittee, “is working on getting us going with some hearings.”
“We are going to absolutely look at the science of carbon pollution and its impact on our people, on our planet,” Boxer said at a committee hearing on drinking water safety. “We are absolutely going to keep up with the science.”
Which science? The science that said snow in Washington DC was a thing of the past? That the Himalayan glaciers were retreating? The White House may want to have a chat with Boxer and Whitehouse on the subject of timing.