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McConnell Plots Coal Amendment to Energy Spending Bill

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is planning an amendment to an upcoming spending bill that could put the brakes on the EPA’s plans to implement new regulations on carbon emissions from existing power plants.  

While it is unusual for the Kentucky Republican to appear at an Appropriations Committee gathering in person, he has maintained his seat and influence on the panel.  

“I’m going to continue to fight. Kentuckians deserve no less. I’m going to keep vigorously fighting against the Obama Administration’s continued War on Coal Jobs – and this extreme, anti-Middle Class national energy tax in particular,” McConnell said in a statement.  

According to a senior GOP aide, the McConnell amendment would require certification that neither electricity prices would go up, nor jobs be eliminated, as a result of implementing new rules on existing power plants. Without such a certification, the rules would not be able to move forward. The Environmental Protection Agency outlined its plans on June 2, and McConnell has been pledging to use any tools at his disposal to stop the action.  

Tuesday morning’s subcommittee markup of the 2015 Energy-Water appropriations bill is scheduled to be followed by full committee markup on Thursday, at which point amendments are often offered.  

The McConnell proposal is one of several Republican amendments that could prove problematic for Democrats if the markup moves forward, since the Democratic membership includes senators like Mark Begich of Alaska, Mary L. Landrieu of Louisiana and Mark Pryor of Arkansas. All three members are running for re-election in 2014 and have had serious concerns about the Obama administration’s policies on energy and environment issues.  

With 30 senators on the Appropriations panel and a 16-14 split between the parties, it could take as few as two Democrats to get the McConnell amendment adopted, meaning Democrats might have a tough choice to make before Thursday morning.  

“Opposing this bill, or blocking its consideration, means you must believe that the President’’s rules will cause job loss, or utility rate hikes, or brownouts,” said McConnell. “The President’s regulations will increase electricity prices and create job loss. Opponents of this bill would be supporting job loss in Kentucky, our economy being hurt, and seniors’ energy bills spiking – for almost zero meaningful global carbon reduction. So the Majority Leader and his Democrat colleagues need to listen.”

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