Senate to vote Wednesday on undoing Obama methane rule

Senate to vote Wednesday on undoing Obama methane rule
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The Senate will consider on Wednesday a Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution undoing a contentious Obama administration methane waste rule.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellOvernight Energy: Trump energy nominees face Congress | OPEC to extend production cuts Senate confirms Trump's first lower-court nominee Top GOP senators tell Trump to ditch Paris climate deal MORE (R-Ky.) brought the measure to the floor on Tuesday evening as Republican supporters of the resolution said they expect to have the votes. 

"I think we'll have the votes to pass it," Sen. John HoevenJohn HoevenOvernight Healthcare: Divisions emerge in Senate over preexisting conditions GOP senators meet with insurer for input on ObamaCare repeal Senate GOP short on ideas for stabilizing ObamaCare markets MORE (R-N.D.) said on Tuesday. "We feel we'll be able to pass it."

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Wednesday is the second-to-last day the Senate can approve the legislation under the terms of the Congressional Review Act (CRA), which allows lawmakers to nix administrative regulations through an act of Congress.

The resolution would undo a Bureau of Land Management regulation issued late in the Obama administration that limits venting and flaring of methane from natural gas drilling sites.

Republican supporters of the resolution have hunted for the votes necessary to pass the bill for months, and they have little margin for error. Two Republicans are expected to vote against the measure, and two undecided members — Sens. Cory GardnerCory GardnerSenate panel could pass new Russia sanctions this summer Overnight Energy: Trump energy nominees face Congress | OPEC to extend production cuts Senators air grievances on Trump energy budget, delays MORE (R-Colo.) and Heidi HeitkampHeidi HeitkampSanders, Democrats introduce minimum wage bill GOP senators distance themselves from House ObamaCare repeal bill Separating fact from fiction in the Regulatory Accountability Act MORE (D-N.D.) — remain publicly undecided this week.

A group of Midwestern GOP senators has also threatened to hold up the vote as leverage in an ongoing ethanol policy dispute. Sen. Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyThe case for protecting America's intelligence agency whistleblowers Senate confirms Trump's first lower-court nominee Feinstein: Comey memos 'going to be turned over' MORE (R-Iowa) would not say Tuesday whether that issue had been resolved.

Sen. Maria CantwellMaria CantwellOvernight Energy: Democrats take on key Trump Interior nominee Democrats prod Trump Interior nominee over lobbying work Cohn, Mnuchin visit Capitol Hill to discuss tax reform MORE (D-Wash.) said on Tuesday that she is “confident the Democrats are going to be strong” in opposing the CRA resolution, which requires only a majority vote to pass.

President Trump is expected to sign the resolution if it comes to his desk. He already signed an executive order beginning the process of ending the rule, but the administrative route he ordered takes a lot longer than the immediate impact of a CRA resolution.

— Timothy Cama contributed.