Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) is the only Democrat to cosponsor the amendment by Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to block the Environmental Protection Agency from extending regulatory control over carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. In an interview today on Hoppy Kercheval Show, Manchin made the newsworthy comment that he expected 13 to 15 Democrats to eventually support the amendment.
Question: “You signed onto the McConnell Amendment as a Democrat, but you’re the only Democrat I think who’s signed on to the McConnell Amendment. Why can’t you get – you’re a persuasive person, you wear people down – why can’t you get other Democrats to sign onto the McConnell amendment?”
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV): “Well, I’m working on them I can tell you that from the standpoint – and I don’t know whether they don’t realize, I think a few more votes – I think they’re going to vote for it, I really do. Now I guess they don’t want to take the lead on something that I feel so strongly about. I just believe that the EPA has totally overstepped its boundaries. It was never an agency put in a position to the create public policy that’s going to affect us and change our way of life, I truly believe. So I feel strong enough to sign on. Other people might not, but I believe there’ll be 13 to 15 democrats that will vote for it.”
The possibility of the McConnell Amendment passing probably explains why it did not come to a floor vote this week.
No matter the amendment’s fate, it’s heartening to see Sen. Manchin invoke a founding precept of the American Republic, the separation of powers in which the legislative branch, Congress, makes policy by writing law and the Executive Branch carries out the law. In the many floor speeches we watched this week, Senate opponents of the McConnell amendment by and large failed to address that matter of principle. They appeared willing to surrender their role as lawmakers just because the EPA is a doing a good thing.
In our decade of involvement with the North Dakota Legislature, we saw lawmakers of both political parties consistently articulate their belief that they belonged to policymaking branch of government. The principle informed their debates and guided their votes. If only the U.S. Senate were as diligent and thoughtful vis a vis the EPA.
At some point, the Senate will vote on whether Congress or the EPA will set economic and environmental policy. In the debate leading up to the vote, all Senators should address what they consider their proper role as a legislator. Sen. Manchin’s comments today provide a good way to frame the question: “Do you believe the EPA should be in the position to create public policy that’s going to affect us and change our way of life?”
(Hat tip: Ed Morrissey at HotAir.com, “Rockefeller says McConnell-Inhofe EPA bill ‘theological’ and ‘immature,’ can’t pass.“)
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