If the record of the current Republican-led House is a guide, the Environmental Protection Agency, Affordable Care Act and Dodd-Frank financial-regulation law will be frequently under attack should the GOP win enough Senate seats on Nov. 4 to gain full control in the new 114th Congress next year.
House Republican majorities have voted at least 104 times during the 113th Congress to weaken the EPA and the laws its oversees, 24 times to dismantle the 2010 health law and 18 times to roll back Dodd-Frank rules for policing Wall Street. The campaign against Dodd-Frank has included six votes to neuter the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau created by the law to protect households in everyday financial transactions.
While these legislative priorities have faltered in the current Democratic-led Senate, they would move forward in a Congress totally run by Republicans, predicts Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who is in line to become majority leader if he is re-elected next month and his party wins control of the Senate.
“We’re going to go after (Democrats) on health care, on financial services, on the Environmental Protection Agency,” he told a conference of prosperous Republican donors hosted June 15 by David and Charles Koch at a resort near San Diego.
If McConnell were able to muster enough votes to get legislation past Democratic procedural maneuvers, President Obama could use vetoes to protect cornerstone laws and programs. The EPA was established by President Richard Nixon’s executive order in 1970, Dodd-Frank was Congress’s main response to the 2008-09 financial crash and the ACA, with 7.3 million paid enrollees in insurance exchanges as of mid-August, is Obama’s signature domestic law.
The environmental votes account for one of every 11 House roll calls since January 2013. They occurred on GOP attempts to weaken laws including the Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, Endangered Species Act and National Environmental Policy Act in order to advance proposals to expand offshore and Arctic drilling, expedite mountaintop mining, build the Keystone XL Pipeline, devolve pesticide and coal-ash regulation to the states and increase logging in national forests, among other objectives.
The 104 votes included 40 roll calls on GOP-sponsored bills and amendments, including 12 intended to block action to deal with climate change, and 64 votes on Democratic measures in defense of existing environmental policies. (Readers can view a listing of these environmental votes at voterama.info.)
Republicans need to block a “radical environmental agenda” by the president that slows economic growth and costs jobs, said Rep. Jackie Walorski, R-Ind., in debate March 5 over power-plant emissions and climate-change.
Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., charged in the same debate that Congress “has entered the intellectual wilderness — the Flat Earth Society” in its approach to climate-change.
This pre-Election Day report spotlights 24 of this year’s most newsworthy votes in Congress, including roll calls on House GOP efforts to exert congressional control over the independent Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and prohibit funding of Department of Energy and Army Corp of Engineers efforts to address climate change.
Also charted here are House votes to authorize U.S. military support of Syrian rebel forces; end the Obama administration’s “dreamers” program granting legal status to some youths who entered the country as undocumented children; pursue a GOP lawsuit alleging that President Obama overstepped his constitutional authority; restrict National Security Agency collection of data on Americans and establish a committee to investigate the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
This report also covers Senate votes on Democratic proposals to allow widespread student-loan refinancing and counter the Supreme Court’s “Hobby Lobby” ruling on birth-control coverage under the Affordable Care Act, as well as votes on bipartisan measures intended to improve veterans’ health care, increase energy efficiency, allow military sexual-assault cases to be prosecuted outside the chain of command and address problems posed by the increased number of illegal child immigrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border.
Finally, the report includes votes in both chambers on raising the minimum wage, establishing male-female pay equity for the same work, extending jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed, suspending the national-debt limit and passing a five-year farm and food bill.
Here are summaries of the 24 issues and the votes cast by Sens. Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray (both D-Wash.) and U.S. Reps. Suzan DelBene (D-Medina) and Rick Larsen (D-Everett).
In the House
In the Senate