House lawmakers passed a $1.2 trillion package of appropriations bills for the next fiscal year on Thursday, but not before Republicans successfully added four amendments targeting Obama-era rules, including those governing methane emissions and the "social cost of carbon."
The omnibus package of bills, combined as HR 3354, will now move on to the Senate, where it faces an uncertain future. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), vice chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, predicted the package would not pass.
"What the House passed today does not bring us any closer to responsibly funding the government, and it will not pass the Senate," Leahy said Thursday. "It wastes billions of taxpayer dollars on a useless border wall, which the president promised that Mexico would pay for, and contains poison-pill riders that have no place in the appropriations process...
"This is not a real solution. We need a bipartisan budget deal based on parity -- like the ones we had in 2013 and in 2015 -- that raises the post-sequester budget caps for both defense and non-defense programs to address the needs and the real priorities of our nation."
Nevertheless, House Appropriations Committee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ) lauded the spending package's passage. "The legislation approved by the House today funds important domestic and international programs that keep our people safe, that help our economy grow and thrive, that protect us from terrorists and those who want to do us harm, and that preserve America's top role across the globe -- both militarily and diplomatically," he said Thursday.
HR 3354 passed on a 211-198 vote, mostly along partisan lines; one Democrat voted in favor of the bill, while 14 Republicans voted against it.
On Wednesday, the House agreed to two amendments -- again, mostly along partisan lines -- that were introduced by Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-OK). The first calls for preventing funds from being allocated to enforce rules governing new sources of methane emissions, while the second did likewise for using the "social cost of carbon" methodology for crafting regulation.
Mullin's first amendment targeted the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) proposed rules governing fugitive emissions, pneumatic pumps and professional engineer certification requirements as outlined in updates to the agency's New Source Performance Standards (NSPS). The amendment passed, 218-195, with three Democrats voting yes and 11 Republicans voting no.
"This rule is currently facing litigation and uncertainty, and Congress must act to block this job-killing regulation estimated to cost the U.S. economy $530 million annually," Mullin said during debate last week. "Methane emissions from oil and natural gas have significantly declined in recent decades without multiple, overlapping federal regulations, and this is no exception."
The second Mullin amendment, to oppose the "social cost of carbon" methodology, passed on a 225-186 vote, with four Democrats voting in favor and five Republicans against.
"Congress and the American people have repeatedly rejected cap-and-trade proposals," Mullin said. "The Obama administration continuously used social cost of carbon models, which can easily be manipulated, in order to attempt to justify new job-killing regulations. The House has made a clear, strong record in opposition to social cost of carbon, voting at least 11 times to block, defund or oppose the proposal."
Mullin's amendments followed two others that were agreed to last week.
An amendment introduced by Rep. Steve Pearce (R-NM) to block the Department of Interior's (DOI) Bureau of Land Management from enacting its Waste Prevention, Production Subject to Royalties, and Resource Conservation Rule, aka the venting and flaring rule, was agreed to on a 216-186 vote. Meanwhile, an amendment introduced by Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA) to prevent funds from being used for the EPA to expand its regulatory scope under Section 115 of the Clean Air Act (CAA) to regulate greenhouse gas emissions passed on a voice vote.
The House delayed final passage of HR 3354 until this week. The move allowed lawmakers whose districts were threatened by Hurricane Irma to tend to their constituents.
Last August, a federal appeals court rejected a request by the oil and gas industry and its allies to reconsider a court panel's decision in July to lift a stay of the NSPS.
Five months earlier, President Trump signed a sweeping executive order (EO) that called on federal agencies to review the "social cost of carbon" methodology for crafting regulation. The same EO directed the DOI to review, rescind or revise the venting and flaring rule.
The Independent Petroleum Association of America and the Western Energy Alliance filed a lawsuit against the venting and flaring rule in November 2016. Montana and Wyoming then filed a separate lawsuit, which was later joined by North Dakota and Texas. The two lawsuits were combined at the end of that month.
Lawmakers in the Republican-controlled Senate narrowly failed to pass a bill to repeal the venting and flaring rule in May.