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Senate Dems take aim at Republicans over boiler rules

Lawmakers and the White House agreed to a two-month extension of payroll tax cut in December. They are now negotiating a full-year extension.

Sen. Chuck SchumerChuck SchumerThe first Southern state legalizes marijuana — what it means nationally H.R. 1/S. 1: Democrats defend their majorities, not honest elections McCarthy asks FBI, CIA for briefing after two men on terror watchlist stopped at border MORE (D-N.Y.) said the measure delaying EPA’s boiler rules is a distraction, noting that the proposal has “nothing to do with the tax cut.”

“So we say to Speaker BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerHarry Reid reacts to Boehner book excerpt: 'We didn't mince words' Cruz on Boehner: 'I wear with pride his drunken, bloviated scorn' Boehner on Clinton impeachment: 'I regret that I didn't fight against it' MORE, instruct your conferees to drop the issue of Boiler MACT,” Schumer said.

House and Senate payroll tax cut conferees discussed the measure to delay the boiler regulations at a meeting last week. Republicans praised the proposal.

“The costs are real, and they are both in dollars and in terms of jobs,” Sen. John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoSunday shows preview: Democrats eye passage of infrastructure bill; health experts warn of fourth coronavirus wave Lack of cyber funds in Biden infrastructure plan raises eyebrows As Congress considers infrastructure, don't forget rural America MORE (R-Wyo.) said of the boiler regulations at one of a string of meetings to extend the payroll tax cut.

House Republicans included the measure in their payroll tax extension package last year.

Senate Republicans countered Tuesday afternoon that the measure delaying the boiler regulations has bipartisan support.

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"My counterpart, the majority leader, yesterday accused us of wanting to poison children because the House-passed payroll tax bill, which is the underlying bill in the conference, includes the boiler MACT provision," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellHarry Reid reacts to Boehner book excerpt: 'We didn't mince words' Democrats see opportunity in GOP feud with business Biden resists calls to give hard-hit states more vaccines than others MORE (R-Ky.) told reporters.

"I mean, is that the kind of rhetoric while the conference is meeting that is designed to get an outcome? I think the facts speak for themselves."

EPA unveiled regulations last year that require industrial boiler and incinerator operators to install technology to reduce harmful air pollutants like mercury and soot.

The agency said the “maximum achievable control technology” standards will offer major public health benefits, preventing 8,100 premature deaths and 5,100 heart attacks a year starting in 2015.

But Republicans, some moderate Democrats and industry groups have launched an aggressive campaign against the regulations, arguing they will cost jobs and burden the economy.

About 300 business groups sent a letter to lawmakers last week urging them to delay the boiler rules in the payroll tax cut package.

This story was updated at 6:20 p.m.