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Published: Wednesday, February 01, 2017 @ 3:52 PM
Republicans in Congress moved forward Wednesday with a rarely used Congressional tool in order to roll back recent regulations of the Obama Administration, as the House voted to repeal an Interior Department rule that limits pollution runoff from surface mining operations, one of a series of regulatory policy reversals the GOP wants to get to the President's desk.
"The stream protection rule is a thinly veiled attempt to wipe out coal jobs," said House Speaker Paul Ryan.
"The Stream Protection Rule is not about protecting streams, it was designed for one purpose - to regulate to the coal mining industry out of business," said Rep. Bill Johnson (R-OH).
"It is the centerpiece of the Obama Administration's War on Coal," said Rep. Bill Johnson (R-OH), as Republicans pushed the plan to reverse that rule through on a vote of 228-194.
Democrats were outnumbered.
"The Stream Protection Rule helps safeguard communities from the environmental and health damage caused by coal mining," Rep. Denny Heck (D-WA) argued in vain.
The Senate on Wednesday voted to start debate on the measure, which cannot be filibustered by Democrats; a final vote is expected on Thursday.
Republicans are using a procedural tactic known as the Congressional Review Act, which allows for expedited votes in the House and Senate in order to reverse Executive Branch regulations.
The CRA was approved back in 1996, part of a drive then by Republicans in Congress to get a hold of regulations; it had largely been forgotten, until GOP leaders decided to dust it off - with President Trump now ready to sign whatever rules they vote to repeal.
Environmental groups were aghast.
"Not only is the GOP Congress going to kill it," the Sierra Club said of the stream protection rule, "they’re going to try to make sure that it never comes back," noting one unique part of the CRA, which says once the Congress repeals a rule, regulators can't ever approve the same thing again.
That prohibition has not yet been tested in court.
The Stream Protection vote was just the first this week in Congress - here are others on the schedule:
+ Disapprove a rule from the Securities and Exchange Commission about "Disclosure of Payments by Resource Extraction Issuers" (Approved by the House 235-187)
+ Disapprove a Social Security Administration rule related to providing relevant documents to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (for firearm purchases)
+ Disapproving a rule from NASA, the GSA and DOD, that relates to Federal Acquisition regulations.