The Republican-led House moved Thursday to take away the Environmental Protection Agency's authority to regulate greenhouse gases in a vote largely negated by Senate action a day earlier to reject such a repeal.
Despite the apparent dead end for the legislation, EPA regulatory authority remained a sticking point in the negotiations to avoid a government shutdown. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said one of the holdups to reaching an agreement was that Republicans "want to roll back the Clean Air Act."
House Republicans have cast the EPA's effort, under the Clean Air Act, to regulate emissions blamed for global warming as one of the clearest examples of government overreach and have made rescinding the EPA authority a cornerstone of their anti-regulatory campaign.
"This legislation will remove the biggest regulatory threat to the American economy," said Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
The vote was 255-172, with Republicans unanimous in supporting it. The White House has issued a veto threat against the bill, presumably now unneeded following a 50-50 vote Wednesday in the Senate to defeat an identical bill.
Separately, House Republicans in February, as part of legislation passed to cut federal spending in the current budget year, pushed through an amendment to deny any funds to the EPA for the remainder of the year for regulating greenhouse gases. It is that provision that Republicans are seeking to include in the compromise to prevent the federal government from running out of money on Friday.
The bill the House approved Thursday would reject a 2009 finding by federal scientists that climate change caused by greenhouse gases endangers human health and would prevent the agency from using existing law to regulate heat-trapping pollution.
Critics of the EPA regulations said they would cause harm to the economy and result in job losses. But White House press secretary Jay Carney, in a statement Wednesday night, said the administration was encouraged by the Senate vote to defend the EPA "by rejecting efforts to roll back EPA's commonsense steps to safeguard Americans from harmful pollution."