Obama’s climate push won’t come to an end after US midterms


whAfter the US midterm elections, it will be pretty much game over for President Obama’s big climate push. Or will it?

Polls show the Republicans are poised to take control of the Senate on Tuesday while possibly expanding their ownership of the House of Representatives. With this scenario Republicans, famous for their denial of climate science, will, in theory, begin rolling back Obama’s moderately ambitious climate agenda.

It is true that with full control of Congress, the GOP will be able to make life even more difficult for the White House. But it might not be much worse than the last few years where Republicans have refused to work with Obama on a range of issues, including battling global warming.

So after Tuesday Republicans may well take majority control in the Senate but no one sees them hitting 60 seats, the so-called super majority needed to do anything that means anything in the mostly do-nothing legislature.

So indeed it could be more of the same ‘ol gridlock in Washington where Republican lawmakers produce bills for show – like the myriad of bits of worthless paper produced to rollback Obamacare or to force approval of TransCanada’s Keystone oil pipeline. Those kind of bills will still die without a Senate super majority. They would also be vetoed by Obama should they reach his desk.

“One possibility is that nothing will really change,” political journalist Molly Ball wrote recently in the Atlantic. “After all, we have divided government now, and we will still have divided government if Republicans go from 45 senators to 51. Obama will still be in the White House, and the House of Representatives will still belong to the GOP.”

The GOP has made it clear it would like to put the kibosh on Obama’s signature climate plan – the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed rules to cut emissions for coal plants by 30 percent from 2005 levels within the next 25 years.

There is a real possibility that the GOP could tuck in anti-climate and pro-Keystone measures in big spending bills to try and force Obama’s hand. But then that becomes a problem for both sides as it would mean could mean a standoff and possibly another unpopular shutdown of the government, like the wrenching two week furlough of Washington in 2013.

This not something the GOP really wants in the run-up to the 2016 presidential campaign. Approval ratings for lawmakers are scraping the barrel now and further shenanigans will only worsen their standing.

The thing is the Republicans will have a governing majority and the onus will be on them to govern. It will be hard to pull off the same stunts as when they were merely trying to stop the Democrats from doing anything. Now they must face the issues and perhaps be forced to compromise as the legislative entity in control.

So perhaps the real worry: what will Obama give up if he is forced into deal making? “What scares me the most, is what Obama will agree to,” a top Democratic strategist told the Atlantic.

 

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