Key senators nearing deal that would allow vote on blocking EPA climate rules

Coburn told reporters Monday that he believed he had reached an agreement with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). A Reid spokesman said late Monday night that the lawmakers had not yet reached an agreement, but hoped to finalize one Tuesday.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) offered an amendment to the small business bill that would permanently eliminate EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. Meanwhile, Senate Democrats submitted three amendments to the bill that would limit, rather than outright eliminate, EPA’s climate authority.

Senate Small Business Committee Chairwoman Mary Landrieu (D-La.) said Tuesday that negotiations on the Coburn amendments are ongoing and an agreement could be finalized later Tuesday.

And she expressed optimism that the Senate will be able to move forward with votes on the amendments to block or limit EPA climate rules this week.

“The negotiations are ongoing and it looks like we may potentially be able to have votes on the EPA related amendments potentially tomorrow or before the end of this week,” Landrieu said.

But, given ongoing negotiations over government spending, the timeline for votes on the amendments is very much in flux. Votes were expected last week and were delayed.

Landrieu said it is unclear whether Coburn will get a vote on his amendment to repeal ethanol subsidies.

“There’s opposition to that on both the Republican and Democratic sides against ending the subsidy for ethanol,” Landrieu said. “We’re still engaged. But it’s just moving very, very slowly. Hopefully we can get an agreement in the next couple of hours.”

The McConnell amendment to block EPA climate rules mirrors legislation introduced in the Senate by Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.). Companion legislation is expected to come up on the House floor Wednesday. The bill will easily pass the House, but faces major hurdles in the Senate.

Democratic alternative amendments to limit EPA’s climate rules include: Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) amendment to codify EPA plans to exempt small polluters from climate rules and exempt the agriculture sector from the rules; Sen. Jay Rockefeller’s (D-W.Va.) amendment to delay EPA climate rules for two years; and Sen. Debbie Stabenow’s (D-Mich.) amendment to delay EPA climate rules for two years, exempt agriculture from greenhouse-gas rules and boost a tax credit program for manufacturing green-energy equipment, among other provisions.