Could climate rule spark shutdown fight?

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President Obama’s new climate change rule could result in a partial government shutdown this fall if Republicans attempt to block the regulations through the appropriations process.

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Republicans on Monday assailed the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed 30 percent reduction in carbon emissions from power plants, with Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) calling the idea “nuts.”

With the rule now moving forward, House Republicans could try to stop it by including a provision in one of the annual appropriations bills.

They used the tactic last year in an omnibus spending bill, blocking regulations on everything from light bulb standards to gun exports to workplace regulations on family farms.

The EPA and Interior Department’s annual appropriations bill has been subject to such policy riders before, so it’s possible that Republicans will insert language into this year’s bill to prevent Obama’s carbon crackdown from taking effect.

“These new regulations certainly would not help the effort to find common ground on the Interior/Environment bill for FY 2015,” one GOP aide warned. “Many members on both sides of the aisle believe that EPA’s actions will kill jobs and skyrocket energy prices.”

Senate Democratic leaders would almost certainly reject an appropriations the bill that blocked the climate rules, however, so passage of a bill with an EPA rider could lead to another government shutdown battle. The shutdown could be limited to the funding bill for the EPA and Interior, but in that case popular agencies such as the National Park Service would be affected. 

That means the strategy could carry big risks for Republicans, since the deadline for finishing the 12 annual appropriations bills comes just a few weeks before a midterm election in which they hope to retake the Senate.

The last government shutdown in 2013 sent the Republican Party’s poll numbers plunging to historic lows, so it’s unlikely that Democrats would back down from the fight.

One possible alternative for Republicans would be passing a stopgap measure that pushes the final standoff into the lame-duck session after the election.

It will be up to House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) and subcommittee Chairman Ken Calvert (R-Calif.) to decide the strategy.

Rogers, who is trying to complete all 12 spending bills separately by the shutdown deadline of Oct. 1, was notably silent Monday on the EPA rule despite its effect on his coal-producing district.

Previous, Rogers has condemned the EPA’s carbon regulations as part of a job killing "war on coal."

Calvert, however, hinted that he could take action on the emissions rule in his bill. 

“The president’s new energy tax is yet another attack on the household costs and wages of American workers,” Calvert said. “Rest assured, my colleagues and I will take appropriate actions to protect American families from even more economic pain.”

Rep. Jim Moran (Va.), the ranking Democrat on the subcommittee, predicted Friday that the Interior/EPA bill will be very hard to complete. 

“We know what the funding looks like the problem is going to be the riders,” Moran told The Hill, recalling that the bill has had more than 30 environmental riders in the past. 

In a statement, Moran praised Obama’s proposed rule.

“The EPA’s proposal today is a game changing decision that reflects President Obama’s commitment to act on climate change. This is a problem that won’t go away unless we take decisive action to reduce the carbon emissions that are driving climate change,” he said.

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