Thursday, May 14, 2015

Which 24 Democrats Just Voted to Hobble Clean Water Regulations?

On Tuesday, House Republicans did one of their favorite things: attack the EPA. They did this in the form of the so-called "Regulatory Integrity Protection Act," a bill that would overturn an EPA rule aimed at redefining which streams, ponds, wetlands, and other waterways are under its Clean Water Act jurisdiction.

The Supreme Court ordered the federal government to define its "waters of the United States" jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act in a 2001 case. The EPA has thus been working on this rule for over a decade. And Republicans, in response to industry lobbying, want to make them start all over.

Here is Rep. Donna Edwards (MD-04), who serves on the Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment in the House, on the dangers of the bill:
“H.R. 1732 would halt the current Clean Water rulemaking, and require the agencies to withdraw the proposed rule and restart the rulemaking process. This is after one million public comments, a 208 day comment period, and over 400 public hearings. On April 6, 2015, the EPA and the Corps forwarded a revised rule based on concerns expressed to the Office of Management and Budget for review.
“The bill would only force the agencies to meet with the same group of stakeholders and talk about the same issues that they have already discussed several times over the last fourteen years since the first Court decision. This rulemaking has been more than a decade in the development. Moreover, this bill will further perpetuate the current regulatory confusion that leads to unnecessary costs and delays, which has been the subject of much criticism from all stakeholders, and will leave many of our nation’s waters unprotected.
“This week we will also vote on the Energy and Water appropriations bill, which contains a policy rider explicitly prohibiting the Army Corps of Engineering (Corps) from spending any money to develop the very same new Clean Water rule that this bill tells the Corps to write.  From my understanding the Interior appropriations bill is expected to contain a similar rider for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  Republicans try to make it sound as if all they want is for EPA and the Corps to develop rules the right way, but it’s clear that what they really want is to stop these agencies from doing their job at all – no Rules – no clean water.
“Congress must allow the Administration to finish its work and publish the final rule. If we don’t like the result, we have ample authority to fix it.  Congress has the ability to review “major” rules issued by federal agencies before the rules take effect.  In fact, the Congressional Review Act allows Congress to actually disapprove new rules, resulting in the rules having no force or effect.
“If H.R. 1732 were to be enacted, it would only ensure that the confusion continues and that these sources of drinking water remain a serious risk to the public health. That is why I urge my colleagues to oppose this bill.
The bill passed 261 to 155. 24 Democrats joined Republicans in voting for it.

Here are the 24:

Brad Ashford (NE-02)
Sanford Bishop (GA-02)
Cheri Bustos (IL-17)
Jim Clyburn (SC-06)
Jim Cooper (TN-05)
Jim Costa (CA-16
Henry Cuellar (TX-28)
Danny Davis (IL-07)
John Delaney (MD-06)
Gwen Graham (FL-02)
Gene Green (TX-29)
Robin Kelly (IL-02)
Sean Maloney (NY-19)
Collin Peterson (MN-07)
Cedric Richmond (LA-02)
Kurt Schrader (OR-05)
David Scott (GA-13)
Kyrsten Sinema (AZ-09)
Eric Swalwell (CA-15)
Bennie Thompson (MS-02)
Norma Torres (CA-35)
Marc Veasey (TX-33)
Filemon Vela (TX-34)
Tim Walz (MN-01)

When the GOP brought up this bill last September, it got 35 Democratic votes.

Part of this difference is due to the retirements or defeats of conservative Democrats last year.

7 Democrats who voted FOR the bill last year changed their mind and now voted against it:

Emanuel Cleaver (MO-05)
Sam Farr (CA-20)
Marcia Fudge (OH-11)
John Garamendi (CA-03)
Alcee Hastings (FL-23)
Ann Kirkpatrick (AZ-01)
David Loebsack (IA-02)

5 Democrats did the opposite. They voted against it last year but now voted for it.

Jim Cooper (TN-05)
Danny Davis (IL-07)
John Delaney (MD-06)
Sean Maloney (NY-19)
Eric Swalwell (CA-15)

Raul Ruiz (CA-36), who voted against it last year, was not in attendance this time.

Brad Ashford (NE-02) and Gwen Graham (FL-02) both replaced Republicans who had voted for the bill, and Norma Torres (CA-25) replaced a now-retired Democrat (Gloria Negrette McLeod) who had supported it.

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