03.23.2015 1

EPA eviscerated, McConnell stands up to Reid

By Rick Manning

EPAWhat a week.

Bibi Netanyahu was elected in a landslide comeback and President Obama threw a temper tantrum after his Iran policy was rejected by the voters of Israel who have the most to lose if he is wrong.

Obama’s law professor, Lawrence Tribe of Harvard Law School, skewered the Environmental Protection Agency in testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Committee and explained the agency’s power grab. “EPA is attempting an unconstitutional trifecta: usurping the prerogatives of the States, Congress, and the Federal Courts — all at once. Much is up for grabs in this complex area. But burning the Constitution of the United States — about which I care deeply — cannot be part of our national energy policy.”

Ouch, that’s going to leave a mark.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) held up the confirmation vote for Obama’s choice for attorney general, Loretta Lynch, as Democratic Leader Harry Reid and his band of 45 followers continued to obstruct the Senate from doing business even on a bi-partisan human trafficking bill.

This move by Leader McConnell shows the evolution of his style in the past three months. In previous confrontations, Reid was able to throw a log-jam-creating fit and was rewarded with the legislation he insisted upon. McConnell’s withholding President Obama’s choice for AG until the Democrats stop acting like babies puts a renewed pressure on Reid and his caucus, as their actions now have consequences.  This power dynamic change is a hopeful sign for those who voted for a Republican majority in both houses in 2014.

Senator Tom Cotton from Arkansas did something that few Republicans have been willing to do since Obama took office: he stood strong and pushed back hard against criticism that his and forty-six other Senators’ letter to the government of Iran was in some way treasonous in light of Obama’s flaccid negotiations.

Rather than being cowed, Cotton stood up for America’s interests that Iran be denied the capacity to build a nuclear weapon following up brilliantly to Netanyahu’s speech before Congress earlier in the month. Quite a change from the quiescence seemingly heard after other Obama policy outrages.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms scurried away from bullet-banning regulations and their embattled Director resigned in the wake of a failed attempt to impose a backdoor gun control scheme. Rarely has a political career come crashing down so rapidly.

Except that it also happened to Republican establishment darling Illinois Congressman Aaron Schock, who stunningly announced his resignation rather than fight the implication that he embezzled funds from the U.S. government through an overstatement of his mileage on expense reports. We presume that Schock is innocent, but his leaving Congress will be welcomed by those vying for the top spot on the annual “most beautiful people on Capitol Hill” competition.  One thing that is certain is that his lucky replacement will get his custom-designed, Downton Abbey-inspired office for the rest of the 114th Congress.

However, Schock’s vote likely won’t be needed on legislation developed by Speaker Boehner, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, and Nancy Pelosi that permanently changes Medicare payments to health professionals blowing a huge $130-billion hole in the budget over the next ten years. With the Speaker’s newfound fondness for developing legislation that Pelosi loves, he has solved his problem with his own pesky conference which constantly insists that he govern as a limited-government Republican.

On the jobs/inexpensive gasoline front, Obama’s intrepid destroyers of the U.S. economy at the Environmental Protection Agency revealed regulations on the hydraulic fracturing technology that has unleashed the American energy boom.  Never content to allow the economy thrive, Obama’s regulatory attack on the job-creating energy industry lies in sharp contrast to his recent State of the Union brag about America’s energy development boom. When coupled with new oil-hauling railcar regulations, the economic burdens being placed on energy producers from the clean oil fields of North Dakota, Montana, and Texas will make it even more difficult for them to weather the current, worldwide low-oil-price environment.

All in all, the good, the bad, and the ugly of the week of March 16-20 will likely be remembered as a seminal time in the 114th Congress, for better or for worse.

Rick Manning is the President of Americans for Limited Government.  

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