Washington — Clean-air rules regulating new or expanding factories would be modified with the goal of spurring more chemical manufacturing under a bill by House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-Jefferson, that won House approval Thursday — and that has prompted a veto threat from Democratic President Barack Obama.
The bill effectively has no chance of becoming law before the expiration of the current Congress at the end of the year, which will kill all pending legislation in the House and Senate.
The White House has said Obama likely would veto Scalise’s Promoting New Manufacturing Act, as well as two other bills addressing environmental regulations that the Republican-controlled House approved earlier this week.
In urging support for his bill on the House floor, Scalise contrasted the federal Environmental Protection Agency “coming out time and time again with rules and regulations that cannot be implemented in the real world” with “people that are trying to create jobs in America.”
“I say, let’s create those jobs, get our economy moving and get these radical agencies that are slowing down job growth in our country out of the way,” Scalise said.
The bill passed on a 238-172 vote, largely along party lines.
The bill would cut red tape and bring more transparency to the air-quality permitting process, Scalise has said.
In Louisiana alone, Scalise has said, burdensome regulations have stalled 39 proposed projects worth $28.6 billion that would create 46,000 new jobs.
But the White House says the Scalise bill and the other two would hamper the ability of the EPA to safeguard the environment and public health by imposing new requirements on the agency as it updates regulations.
“Contrary to its title, this bill does nothing to promote manufacturing,” U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko, D-N.Y., said on the House floor. “It is simply another of many attempts to undermine the Clean Air Act.”
The approvals send the bills to the Democratic-majority Senate, and even there, their fate is highly uncertain: The environmentalist faction demonstrated its strength in the Senate on Tuesday by defeating a proposal to greenlight the Keystone XL pipeline that was fervently backed by U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., who is battling for re-election in a Dec. 6 runoff.
Overriding a presidential veto would take two-thirds approval in both houses.
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