Senate Democrats are vowing to filibuster an impending must-pass funding bill, if it includes add-on proposals that would undermine environmental regulations.
Forty-two members of the Democratic Senate Caucus say they lodge “strong opposition to any riders” included in proposed funding packages “that would gut bedrock US environmental laws.”
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The federal government is set — yet again — to run out of money on Friday. Forty lawmakers in the upper chamber can filibuster any bill that would keep the government open.
The Democratic Senators cited several House Republican proposals that have already been approved by the lower chamber in its appropriations process, including two measures that could severely hamper long-term environmental safeguards.
One would “potentially open up all American coastlines to the risks that come from offshore drilling,” they said, according to a press release issued Monday by Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD). Another would prevent the Environmental Protection Agency, by law, from enacting “the first-ever limits on methane pollution.”
The Senators also flagged House-passed appropriations language that would subvert a “successful regional effort to clean up the Cheseapeake Bay,” in Maryland and Virginia, and another proposal to shut out “public input in repealing the 2015 Clean Water Rule.”
Two weeks ago, when a similar government shutdown deadline loomed, Congress passed a continuing resolution to keep federal agencies open. The Senate approved of the measure in an 81-14 vote, with only eight Democrats voting in opposition.
Democrats who voted “no” included Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). The pair had urged their colleagues to withhold consent from any bill that didn’t address problems neglected by Congressional Republicans.
In a Facebook Live video, Sanders and Warren cited the October expiration of community health grants and the Children’s Health Insurance Program.
They also called on legislators to do something about the impending sunset of Obama-era protections for Dreamers — some 800,000 undocumented immigrants, brought to the United States as children, who had been given guarantees they won’t be deported.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions said the Trump administration would let the safeguards expire in March, putting the fate of Dreamers in the hands of Congress. In recent weeks, Republicans have been largely preoccupied with attempts to pass wide-reaching corporate tax cuts.
The only six members of the Senate Democratic Caucus to abstain from signing onto Monday’s pledge to oppose environmental riders are Jon Tester (D-MT), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN).
In 2014, Congress passed a controversial year-end appropriations bill that also served as a short-term legislative vehicle to avoid a government shutdown.
The so-called “Cromnibus” included the repeal of Section 716 of Dodd-Frank financial reform — a statute that was set to imminently ban speculative derivatives bets with consumer savings insured by the federal government.
Warren attempted to rally Democrats to oppose the policy rider. The legislation passed the House by a hair — a mere seven votes carried the bill, with the backing of 56 Dems. The vote had been preceded by a Wall Street lobbying initiative that included a personal phone call to many House Dems from JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon.
A subsequent investigation by Warren and Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) found the Cromnibus deregulation kept the US government on the hook for some $9.7 trillion in pure speculation.