The House of Representatives on Friday, 2nd August, passed H. R. 367, the REINS Act, which would require House and Senate votes to approve proposed major regulations, by a vote of 232 to 183. Six Democrats and 225 Republicans voted Yes, while all the No votes came from Democrats. Eighteen Members did not vote. The REINS Act isn’t going anywhere in the Senate.
Earlier in the day, the House voted on an amendment offered by Representative Steve Scalise (R-La.) that would require congressional approval before the executive branch could implement a tax on carbon dioxide emissions using regulatory authority. That amendment was adopted by a vote of 237 to 176. Again, 225 Republicans voted Yes. They were joined by twelve Democrats. All 176 No votes came from Democratic Members. Eighteen Members did not vote.
Rep. Scalise is chairman of the conservative House Republican Study Committee, which has made a vote on a resolution opposing a carbon tax one of its top priorities. The amendment is somewhat narrower than H. Con. Res. 24, but the vote does put Members on the record on a carbon tax. The vote reveals that 176 Democratic Members of the House are not opposed to raising taxes. That vote could play a role in some districts in the 2014 congressional elections. A number of House Democrats lost their seats in 2010 because they had voted for the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill.
The twelve Democrats who voted for the anti-carbon tax amendment are: Ron Barber and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, John Barrow and Sanford Bishop of Georgia, Henry Cuellar and Filemon Vela of Texas, William Enyart of Illinois, Jim Matheson of Utah, Mike McIntyre of North Carolina, Collin Peterson and Tim Walz of Minnesota, and Nick Joe Rahall of West Virginia.
Whether the executive branch has authority to implement a carbon tax under the regulatory authority of the Clean Air Act or any other statute is highly dubious. However, several environmental pressure groups have been pushing the idea, and the Obama Administration has proved that it has little regard for the law.
On 1st August, the House also passed the Energy Consumers Relief Act by a vote of 232 to 181. Again, no Republicans voted against the bill. Nine Democrats voted for it. H. R. 1582 tries to set some limits on the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to promulgate expensive new regulations. Again, the bill is not going anywhere in the Democratic-controlled Senate.