The U.S. House voted largely along party lines late yesterday to block environmental safeguards limiting emissions from power plants. There’s no chance President Obama will sign the bill into law, but that wasn’t the point – House Republicans pushed the measure to make themselves feel better and to “send a message” to the Paris COP21 climate talks about far-right opposition in the United States to an international agreement.
The vote was one of several related elements of the Republican sabotage strategy that has been in the works for months.
For many GOP policymakers, there’s a realization that the campaign is likely to come up short – a global deal to combat the climate crisis may come together whether Republican climate deniers like it or not – which is why some conservative lawmakers continue to search for ways to kill the deal, if one ultimately comes together.
Bloomberg Politics reports today, however, that this wouldn’t be nearly as easy as Republicans might think.
Even a Republican successor in the White House would have a hard time overturning whatever commitments are made in coming days or the U.S. power plant rules that underlie Obama’s pledge and were targeted by Tuesday’s resolutions, now facing an almost-certain veto.“The Republicans might get some political talking points by saying this, but realistically, there’s no way they are going to repeal these rules if the courts uphold them,” said Brian Potts, a Foley & Lardner LLP attorney specializing in Clean Air Act cases.
It may very well be impossible for the White House to get Congress to “deliver $3 billion into a United Nations fund to help developing countries adapt to rising seas and other impacts of climate change,” and that would be a major setback to the international efforts, but that doesn’t mean Republicans can simply kill a climate deal they disapprove of it.
Meanwhile, there’s a question surrounding this political fight that hasn’t been raised, but probably deserves an answer.
When Republicans vow to destroy the Affordable Care Act, many ask, “What’s the GOP alternative to bring health security to the American public?” When Republicans vow to destroy the international nuclear agreement with Iran, they’re again asked, “Where’s the GOP solution to curtail Iran’s nuclear ambitions?” This same dynamic exists on practically every issue on which President Obama is trying to govern: the White House has proposed solutions to key challenges, and Republicans fiercely oppose those measures, often for ridiculous reasons, while offering no agenda of their own.
But note that when it comes to addressing global warming and combating the climate crisis, no one presses Republicans with the obvious question: “If you’re opposed to President Obama’s climate plan, where’s your alternative solution?”
I’m only half-serious, of course, because we already know the Republican Party is the only major party on the planet that rejects climate science. Of course we don’t see GOP lawmakers and presidential candidates presenting their own plans to deal with climate change; as far as they’re concerned, there is no problem to solve, since all of the evidence deserves to be ignored.
But shouldn’t the question come up anyway? If the Democratic presidential candidates each have climate plans of their own, why not press Republican White House hopefuls for their own proposals?