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Earth United States Politics

Congress Votes to Scrap Obama's Clean Power Plan (sciencemag.org) 151

sciencehabit writes with news that the House voted 242-180 to repeal the EPA's Clean Power Plan, and 235-188 to block EPA rules governing emissions from new power plants. Science reports: "Congress has voted, largely along party lines, to block a centerpiece of President Barack Obama's climate change agenda. The votes are largely symbolic, however, because Obama plans to veto the bills. Still, Congressional Republicans, and a few Democrats, say they want to send a message to global leaders who are meeting this week to negotiate a new climate agreement that the majority of U.S. lawmakers may not agree with any deal."
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Congress Votes to Scrap Obama's Clean Power Plan

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  • If they are symbolic bills, then all we'll get here is bullshit discussion about AGW or worse, politics. Must be a slow news day (well, other than the bigger-than-average daily shooting in San Bernardino)

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      If they are symbolic bills, then all we'll get here is bullshit discussion about AGW or worse, politics. Must be a slow news day (well, other than the bigger-than-average daily shooting in San Bernardino)

      Because it's better than pointing out we've known for months that Obamacare is going bankrupt [washingtonpost.com]?

      And the insurance industry that pushed so hard for Obamacare because it forces people to buy their product is begging for a taxpayer bailout [nypost.com]?

    • by Ol Olsoc ( 1175323 ) on Wednesday December 02, 2015 @07:27PM (#51045597)

      If they are symbolic bills, then all we'll get here is bullshit discussion about AGW or worse, politics. Must be a slow news day (well, other than the bigger-than-average daily shooting in San Bernardino)

      Kind of like the gazillion attempts to eliminate Obamacare. Convince the nutcases that elected them that they are standing strong and resolute in the face of science and the Kenyan terror baby.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Kind of like the gazillion attempts to eliminate Obamacare.

        Not quite. The Senate has already passed theses bills so President Obama will actually have to veto them. Back when the House kept passing "defund ObamaCare" bills, the Senate majority leader at the time, Democrat Harry Reid, used Senate procedures and parliamentary manoeuvres to prevent the Senate from ever voting on bills to defund ObamaCare, thus sparing the President from actually having to wield the veto pen and publicly oppose the defunding bills. With control of the Senate now in GOP hands, that's no

  • Symbolic of what (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 02, 2015 @05:43PM (#51044763)

    "The votes are largely symbolic..." of what? How pigheaded and stupid people can be when they put their "minds" to it?

    • >> "The votes are largely symbolic..." of what?

      Here's the GOP case in a nutshell: http://www.foxnews.com/politic... [foxnews.com]

    • Here's what they don't like.

      Oil flows through the first half of Keystone pipeline, where it is then loaded on trains, mostly owned by Burlington Northern, aka Warren Buffet. That's the same Warren Buffett who financed Obama' s campaigns. The plan was to finish the pipeline, which would be more efficient than transferring it to Buffet's trains.

      Obama asked the EPA to look into the plan and the EPA said the net effect of finishing the pipeline would probably be slightly positive for the environment overall.

  • Veto nonchange? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Can somebody please explain how it can be that the congress votes for "no change" and Obama can veto and make a change in the laws? A veto generally cancels changes, meaning we would be stuck with status quo, but not this time.

    • by SydShamino ( 547793 ) on Wednesday December 02, 2015 @06:07PM (#51044909)

      See the thing is, we've had a country for about 240 years. And in all of those years, Congress has passed lots and lots of bills, many of which were signed into law by the president at the time.

      Most of those laws never expire, and most of those laws are supposed to be executed by the executive branch, but more importantly, most of those bills delegate lots of the details about how to execute the laws to the executive branch. That's generally how laws are written everywhere.

      So, in this case, as in pretty much every other case when dealing with executive orders, the president isn't just making up laws, he is changing how the executive branch will execute laws in ways that were delegated to him by congress. It - whatever it is - is perfectly legal because past congresses and past presidents made it legal (and a court has never ruled it unconstitutional). If the current congress doesn't like it, they should pass a bill to clarify the law so as to restrict the president's ability to interpret it in a way they do not like. Of course, as is built into our system of checks and balances, they have to pass that law with a supermajority that is immune to the current president's veto or get a sympathetic president elected for their attempt to mean anything.

      That system works fine so long as unrelated items aren't put into bills that have to be introduced periodically, such as bills to fund the government or raise the debt ceiling. Congress could have chosen to attach this to the continuing funding resolution or the debt ceiling bill, and told the president to sign it or the government would shut down and the country would default on its debts, and then maybe an unsympathetic president would sign the bill. Of course that could also make it harder for those congresspeople to be reelected.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        It really is a beautiful system. It creates a healthy bias for the status quo, which presumably has the wisdom of the ages encoded in it, while still allowing progress when consensus emerges. Or with the massive expenditure of political capital, which prevents further sweeping changes. Obamacare is a great example of this. Democrats were only able to pass it when they had control of the Presidency and Congress, with a super-majority in the Senate. Even then, it took a year of political wrangling and caus

        • by khallow ( 566160 )

          Democrats were only able to pass it when they had control of the Presidency and Congress, with a super-majority in the Senate. Even then, it took a year of political wrangling and caused the rest of the President's legislative agenda to be dead-on-arrival.

          Only due to grossly incompetent leadership. Lyndon B. Johnson wouldn't have had such trouble for example.

      • Re:Veto nonchange? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Austerity Empowers ( 669817 ) on Wednesday December 02, 2015 @08:27PM (#51046111)

        they have to pass that law with a supermajority that is immune to the current president's veto or get a sympathetic president elected

        Actually, there is at least one more typical way in dealing with an unsympathetic president, one might even call it the preferred way. They compromise and bargain, yielding on an issue that an opposing president really needs, in exchange for an issue they really need. However the battle lines for the past ten years or so have been drawn such that every single item that comes up has a strong partisan bias, everyone needs everything simultaneously and will yield nothing. And nothing is exactly what we get out of the deal.

        Attaching a rider to a bill is definitely a way things have been done to slide this stuff through once the negotiations have been made, it's good when you lack trust or think you might get outmaneuvered, or just want to slide one by the general public. But you don't just ram that sucker at the president, he can and will veto it, and whether he is popular or not, he has more of the mindshare of the people than any congressman and will call you out on it publicly and it doesn't help anyone.

        As far as I'm concerned both parties have become too big and confused with conflicting internal interests that cannot prioritize or compromise even amongst themselves. The democrats are currently the most coherent (but 15 years ago they were off their rocker), but both are really too big to be able to get things done decisively.

    • Congress has abdicated portions of it's constitutional authority to the administration. Not just Obama's administration but anyone who is president. Part of this was a rule making process in which unelected bodies (in this case, the EPA) can make regulation independent of any constitutionally authorized way and have the same effect as law.

      In this case, the administration has used this power in ways congress doesn't like so it attempted to pass a law disallowing the changes in regulation. The administration

      • Congress itself set the method by which executive rulemaking may be overriden by passing the Congressional Review Act. And Congress has the power to disagree with the leaders of these unelected agencies through the confirmation process. Seems constitutional to me.
        • There are only two constitutionally proscribed ways to create or change a law. That is either by congress passing and the president signing a law or the congress overriding a veto or amending the constitution.

          Any other way is outside the constitution.

          • by dryeo ( 100693 )

            Could have sworn that America (excepting Louisiana) is a common law jurisdiction where judges can also change and create law. Perhaps you don't believe in contract law as it is an example of law where much of it was never passed by Congress or is part of the Constitution. If you look back in time, more law was common law and less statutory until the day the country was formed with nothing but English common law.
            On the flip side, being a common law jurisdiction allows the courts to declare laws or parts of l

            • Common law is outlined in the constitution. But no, judges cannot create law or change laws that are constitutional. All they can do is adjudicate law and declare portions unconstitutional which are invalid according to the supremacy clause of the constitution. This btw is not a constitutional process either as there is no provision in the constitution granting the authority to the judges.

              • by dryeo ( 100693 )

                Federally, yes and no. Federal common law offenses are banned as unconstitutional since 1812 though I wonder about contempt (tell a Judge to fuck off and witness his power). At the State level it varies fro State to State and when a federal court rules on State law, they do consider common law, especially when the common law of the States varies which can lead to creating new law.
                In other matters the federal courts can still make law, though it is Congress that has given them the power in most things such a

                • Your take on it is not off by much. The courts interpreting the law is adjudication or where they derive internet and limits of laws that are or because of circumstances become ambiguous. Conflicts in law are of the same stripe but they do not create law, they determine if a new law repealed an existing law. Or that is the way it is supposed to be. Neither situation do I consider that to be creating or changing a law. It is simply applying the law as intended as far as can reasonably be derived from it as

      • by Anonymous Coward

        It's definitely constitutional. On a pedantic level, it's constitutional because the Supreme Court says it is :). In seriousness, most legislating involves delegating discretionary authority to executive branch officials. Carrying out the laws is not a mechanical process, but requires judgment. By creating regulatory boards like the EPA, FCC, FDA, etc., Congress establishes a process to control the exercise of that discretionary authority.

      • In this case, the administration has used this power in ways congress doesn't like so it attempted to pass a law disallowing the changes in regulation.

        The administration is using its power in ways specifically granted to it by congress. If they didn't like it then they shouldn't have delegated the authority in the first place. That's how our government has worked since the Constitution was ratified.

        This is neither a constitutional or ordinary process.

        Like hell it isn't. You yourself explain perfectly accurately how the system works. And it has (mostly) worked for 240 years. When congress wants to get specific in how it delegates power to the executive branch then they have that right, subject to the re

        • Where in the constitution does it say unelected officials at the direction of the president can create laws or regulations that are treated as law. I'll give you a hint, absolutely nowhere. It spells out specific ways law can be made or changed and this is not it.

          Take your like hell and trade it for an actual copy of the constitution then read it. And no, this has not been happening for 240 years.

          • by riverat1 ( 1048260 ) on Wednesday December 02, 2015 @08:12PM (#51046013)

            Congress through the acts that created the EPA and in the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act, etc. have set out general principles for the EPA to follow and delegating the details of implementing those principles to the Executive Branch and EPA. It's completely constitutional to delegate rule making such as this.

            SCOTUS has said that the EPA has authority to regulate carbon dioxide emissions under the acts of Congress. If Congress wants to change things they have to pass a new act and get the President to not veto it.

            • Yes, congress has abdicated their duties in this regard but there is no constitutional authority to do this. The courts have said it is not unconstitutional (as it doesn't violate any provision ) but there is no provision allowing it either.

              No sain reading of any provision in the constitution suggests anywhere that an unelected body as part of the government can create laws or modify them without going through the constitutional process. Only congress has that ability according to the constitution and it re

              • No sane reading of the Constitution limits the authority of Congress to only those explicitly mentioned in the document. Rather the authority is only limited by the explicit limitations written into the Constitution and Amendments. The Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution to be flexible because they were wise enough to know they couldn't see all future circumstances.

                • Bullshit. You have absolutely no historical context of the constitution at all. It was written with the powers of government explicitly spelled out. Do you seriously think they were wasting time over composing those sections or that the amendments authorizing new powers include the phrases congress shall have to power to make law because they had a surplus of ink?

                  The founders intended the constitution to be flexible through the amendment process. Not through inventing powers and processes to make law outs

      • What does Congress do? Pass laws.

        What does the Executive do? Enforce laws passed by Congress.

        What is the EPA? A part of the Executive Branch.

        What does the EPA do? Enforce laws passed by Congress. This is preschool-level civics, here.

        There are only two constitutionally proscribed ways to create or change a law. That is either by congress passing and the president signing a law or the congress overriding a veto or amending the constitution.

        EPA neither creates nor changes laws. Did the ice pick come with

        • by Jeremi ( 14640 )

          What does the EPA do? Enforce laws passed by Congress. This is preschool-level civics, here.

          Congress created the Environmental Protection Agency to, you know, protect the environment. So, when excess CO2 was determined to be a threat to the environment, the EPA was therefore authorized by existing law to take steps to address the problem. That's not my legal reasoning, that's the reasoning of the Supreme Court [billmoyers.com].

    • by mikael ( 484 )

      Obama uses presidential directives which are approved by the National Security Council.

    • Not read the bill, so shooting from the hip: Likely the bill uses COngress's power of the purse and says not that already allocated funds can not be used to implement climate change regulations, etc . This could prevent any federal employee or contractor from even spending a minute to write a regulation, etc.
      So all our President has to do is veto the bill and the status quo freedom to write regulations remains. If he signs the bill his powers are hobbled.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Once again we see that Congress is the opposite of Progress...
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      No. What we see is a majority of elected legislators unable to stop unelected buearocrats(EPA) from imposing rules that are the equivalent of laws. Any federal rule, regulation, policy, etc that applies outside of the Executive branch should have to get legislative approval. SCOTUS should have stopped congress from abdicating its responsibility a long time ago.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        This did get legislative approval, and executive approval, and has not met with judicial disapproval.

        It was a particularly forward looking bit of legislation that granted the EPA the power to enact rules and regulations within the scope of their mandate so that they can react to environmental threats at a reasonable pace.

        If someone doesn't agree, they can request a judicial review to overturn that particular rule or regulation if it is found to be out of scope.

        That is how law (theoretically) works, and that

        • Re:Once again... (Score:5, Informative)

          by Geoffrey.landis ( 926948 ) on Wednesday December 02, 2015 @07:47PM (#51045773) Homepage

          This did get legislative approval, and executive approval, and has not met with judicial disapproval.

          More than just "not disapproval"-- it met with a decision by the Supreme Court that the EPA had to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.
          Massachusetts v. Environmental Protection Agency 2007.

          So, yes: all three branches.

      • No. What we see is a majority of elected legislators unable to stop unelected buearocrats(EPA) from imposing rules that are the equivalent of laws.

        Did you miss that entire concept where the EPA was created to prevent what is happening in China? This government body was put in place to reverse the insane levels of pollution we "enjoyed" prior to the EPA's creation.

        This is the EPA's job. This is exactly what the EPA was charged with doing and they have done so quite successfully.

        Of course, if you're nostalgic for those good old days when rivers in Ohio caught fire (think about that for a minute) and the air in Los Angeles was said to be the equiv

        • Re:Once again... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by riverat1 ( 1048260 ) on Wednesday December 02, 2015 @08:28PM (#51046119)

          Sometimes I think when we do something about these sorts of problems then the younger people coming up who didn't personally experience the problem tend to dismiss it as a problem. Having grown up in the 1950's and 1960's I'm well aware of how much air and water pollution was around back then and how much cleaner they are now but to someone born after 1980 it's not a real thing.

          The same thing happens with the anti-vaxxers. My parents grew up in a world almost without vaccination and they weren't all that common when I was young. I had measles, rubella, chicken pox and whooping cough growing up and I knew people who were disabled by polio. The polio vaccine didn't come out until I was 6 years old and I remember how excited my parents were about it. But many of the anti-vaxxers grew up in a world where almost nobody got those diseases (because they'd been vaccinated) so they don't think it's that important.

          I don't know what you can do about that because what you read in the history books doesn't seem that real since you didn't experience it yourself.

          • Excellent points, sir, truly insightful.

            At the same time, I am old enough to know that just because a person can speak doesn't mean that they should be given standing in a discussion.

            The person I responded to might very well be too young to understand what this country was like before the EPA was created - but such ignorance is not an excuse and what's worse is this character might vote based on a lifetime of devoted willful ignorance.

            We have enough critical challenges to face without having to dea
        • You forgot the lead, as I understand it, it had covered everything. Part of why we have unleaded gasoline now.
  • Hmm... 2/3rds majority is necessary to override a veto. For a full house, that's 290 votes 'needed' to override a veto. It's actually a bit less if only the same reps vote on the override - 281 for the first vote if the same representatives vote again(a few abstainers are usual).

    Except for partisian solidarity, another 39 votes doesn't seem that much

  • It will be different thanks to the honor of another institution, then. This matter is not a toy anymore, it is about severe consequences.
    Greetings from Europe, that seems to feel moment so much better.

  • China and the US are the only countries that matter anymore, and they're gonna do what they want, kicking sand in the face of the 97 pound weaklings of the world.

    • by DamonHD ( 794830 )

      Ahem... what about the EU?

      By number of people, size of economy, and by actually making some progress on decoupling the economy from carbon emissions?

      Rgds

      Damon

  • by Anonymous Coward

    ... the majority of U.S. lawmakers may not agree with any deal

    Translation: The USA is using its 'world police' status to fuck-over the political agenda of other countries.

    Nothing new there, the new twist is, this time includes US allies. In the aftermath of WW2, the USA assumed the office of world police (and assistant finance controller), which on one hand prevented another world war. OTOH, it allowed the USA to use its guns for profit, thus building a US hegemony. The cost of supporting a US hegemony is now greater than the benefit received by its allies.

    It's ti

  • ... needs another reminder of how dysfunctional this Congress is.

  • All in favor of air strikes, raise your hand.

Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing had happened. -- Winston Churchill

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