House Republicans on Wednesday approved legislative language aimed at keeping the Environmental Protection Agency from implementing President Obama's signature environmental regulation on a voluntary basis while it's blocked by the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court blocked the Clean Power Plan, the EPA's program for setting carbon emission cut goals for existing coal power plants, in February. However, the EPA has been implementing the Clean Energy Incentive Program, part of the Clean Power Plan, on a voluntary basis with states that are interested.
That's rankled many Republicans in Congress who see it as circumventing the Supreme Court. To put a stop to it, Rep. John Ratcliffe, R-Texas, offered an amendment to a $32.1 billion bill funding the EPA and the Department of Interior that would block the EPA from spending any money on implementing the Clean Energy Incentive Program.
"It is no surprise that the unelected bureaucrats at the EPA are once again choosing to ignore an order from the highest court in the land," Ratcliffe said, "but this amendment will stop the EPA from committing this blatant and unconstitutional plan."
With the backing of the GOP majority, the House passed Ratcliffe's language 231-197.
The Clean Power Plan is under assault in the funding bill as Republicans included policy riders to block the implementation of the Clean Power Plan, along with several other controversial EPA regulations.
The Clean Power Plan is the centerpiece of the Obama administration's climate change agenda and seek to reduce carbon emissions from American coal power plants by 30 percent by 2030.
However, it's been the subject of scorn by Republicans since the day it was conceived. Many Republicans see it as an example of executive overreach.
The Supreme Court indicated it agreed in February by staying the plan, an unprecedented maneuver designed to keep the EPA from implementing the Clean Power Plan during the legal challenge from more than half the states.
EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy had previously said about a different regulation that it doesn't always matter if the courts approve the agency's regulations because of the implementation done during the legal process.
However, Rep. Betty McCollum, D-Minn., said Republicans were instead limiting the choices of the states that wanted to participate in the Clean Energy Incentive Program.
"The program is designed to have investments in renewable energy generation to reduce harmful emissions from electric generation facilities," McCollum said, "and many states have embraced this and many states are moving forward with this."
The House is voting on a series of amendments to the funding bill Wednesday evening and is expected to vote on final passage of the full bill later on Wednesday night.