Sen. Rockefeller admits he can't overcome a White House veto of EPA reg delay

Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) acknowledged Wednesday that his plan to delay EPA climate regulations for two years could not get past a promised presidential veto.

“The president will probably veto it and so it wouldn’t have any force,” he told reporters in the Capitol. But, he added, “The point is the message.”

Rockefeller has claimed he can get 60 votes for his two-year delay, enough to get past a filibuster. But that would still be short of the two-thirds support needed to overcome a White House veto. And even getting that far would require the Democratic House – led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who has made aggressive climate policies a flagship issue – to take up the measure this year.

Regardless of the seemingly insurmountable odds, Rockefeller said he does not want to wait until next year for a vote on his two-year delay.

“I don’t want to … take that approach and I particularly don’t want to be seen or appear to be thinking about that approach to my Democratic colleagues,” he said.

Rockefeller has said that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) privately assured him there will be a vote on his two-year delay during a lame-duck session, though he noted Wednesday that senators want a lot of things from Reid during that post-election period.

“Harry’s got everything to do in a lame duck,” he said, noting he also wants the Senate to take up an FAA reauthorization bill.  

But when asked whether an EPA vote is unlikely given other legislative priorities, Rockefeller said, “I don’t take that point of view. Anything can happen.”

Rockefeller acknowledged he ruffled feathers in the liberal wing of the party when he admitted during the healthcare debate that a “hardcore” version of the public option he initially championed was not politically feasible.

“I gotta deal in the world of the possible,” he said. “But on things like FAA, and EPA and other things, you just have to push and push.