Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) dismissed Democrats’ outrage over the firing of FBI Director James Comey, and promptly proceeded to business as usual in the upper chamber: repealing regulations approved by the prior administration.
Only this time, the Majority Leader didn’t succeed. A motion to advance legislation that would repeal a methane emissions rule was defeated Wednesday morning in a 51-49 vote.
Republicans tried to move the resolution forward under the Congressional Review Act (CRA)—a law that allows Congress to repeal recently-approved regulations by a simply majority vote.
President Trump has already signed 13 such repeal measures since assuming office, washing out environmental, labor, and financial rules implemented by the Obama administration.
Wednesday’s defeat in the Senate, however, marks the first time Republicans have failed in using the CRA. Three Republicans voted it down, including Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), and John McCain (R-Ariz.).
Video of proceedings on the Senate floor show Sen. McCain having an animated conversation with Republican colleagues, before casting his “no” vote, and hurrying out of the chamber.
His office later released a statement explaining the Senator’s opposition to repealing the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) rule.
“I believe that the public interest is best served if the Interior Department issues a new rule to revise and improve the BLM methane rule,” McCain said, noting that the CRA’s language would have prevented the issuance of any similar rules in the future.
One of the Senators that McCain was seen conversing with before his vote, Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wy.), said afterward, that the bill “fell one vote short today.”
Barrasso added that he would now ask Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to withdraw the regulations on his own, through the traditional rule-making process.
Methane is a greenhouse gas released in fossil fuel production and hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking.” It traps up to 30 times more heat than carbon—another emission often associated with global warming.