UPDATE: Dem Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, the chair of the Congressional Black Caucus (a member of which was the source on the AP story), has also released a statement denying it: “The anonymous source who contributed to the Associated Press story was inaccurate.”
Is the White House, in the quest for a budget deal, quietly preparing to accept some aspects of a House GOP effort to roll back the regulatory power of the Environmental Protection Agency, which would represent a significant weakening of the Obama adminstration’s commitment to combat global warming? So reported the Associated Press, but in a statement sent my way, the White House is denying it.
There’s a nugget buried in an AP story on the budget wars that claims the following:
A Democratic lawmaker familiar with a meeting Wednesday between Obama and members of the Congressional Black Caucus said the administration made it clear that some House GOP proposals restricting the Environmental Protection Agency’s regulatory powers would have to make it into the final bill. In order to characterize the White House’s position, the lawmaker insisted on anonymity because the meeting was private.
It’s not clear which proposals the White House might accept, but those backed by Republicans would block the government from carrying out regulations on greenhouse gases, putting in place a plan to clean up the Chesapeake Bay and from shutting down mountaintop mines it believes will cause too much water pollution.
If true, this would be striking. It would mean the White House may part ways with Chuck Schumer, who has adamantly insisted that Dems will not support any budget deal containing “riders” on Planned Parenthood or weakening the EPA’s regulatory powers. And as Kevin Drum notes, this would also amount to major capitulation: “It would mean that Obama has essentially given up completely on anything other than token action to address global warming.”
But White House spokesman Clark Stevens emails that the White House is still committed to opposing any EPA “riders”:
As the administration has made clear, the funding bill should not be used to further unrelated policy agendas, and we remain opposed to riders that do that, including as it relates to the environment.
It’s also worth noting that the original AP story said that it wasn’t clear which of the GOP proposals on the EPA the White House was supposedly prepared to support. The original story floated the possibility that the White House might only give on EPA plans to clean up Chesapeake Bay or shut down mountaintop mines — and not on the core GOP proposal of scuttling EPA’s power to regulate greenhouse gases.
As a side note, even Republicans I’ve spoken with privately concede that they’re well aware that it’s unlikely that the latter is a concession they could win, since it would be very hard for many Congressional Dems to support any budget deal containing it.