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Congress takes on CPP

The US Senate has voted 52-46 for a measure that would block President Barack Obama’s highest-profile climate regulation, a symbolic rebuke less than two weeks before he is due to travel to Paris for negotiations on a major global warming deal.

The Senate passed a pair of resolutions disapproving the EPA’s carbon rules, putting the onus on the House to advance the resolutions to the president’s desk – where it will promptly be vetoed.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) led the charge against the CPP in the Senate. Both are from states whose coal sectors have suffered under declining demand and have warned about the further impact of the EPA’s rulemaking.

The Energy and Commerce Committee reconvened its own markup to advance companion resolutions, but a final vote in the House will come after Thanksgiving, once the climate talks in Paris begin.

While Congress won’t be able to override the President’s veto, the resolutions let foreign delegates know that the legislative branch isn’t on board with the centerpiece of Obama’s pledge to cut U.S. carbon emissions, the Clean Power Plan, which critics say harms the economy in exchange for relatively few emissions reductions. “I think diplomats will take a message away from this vote,” said Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, who introduced the first resolution. “The general support for the direction he’s going is weak at best.”

The Senate resolution passed 52-46, with three members of each party crossing the aisle. Republican Sens. Mark Kirk, Kelly Ayotte, and Susan Collins and Democratic Sens. Heidi Heitkamp, Joe Donnelly, and Joe Manchin bucked their respective party lines. Sens. Marco Rubio and Lindsey Graham, both of whom are running for president, did not vote.

The White House said President Obama would veto the resolution, which aims to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from implementing new limits on greenhouse gas pollution from power plants. But Republican leaders say its passage underscores their message to other world leaders: Congress is not behind Obama’s agenda, and a GOP president would most likely abandon his focus on climate change.

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