November 21, 2011

Manchin's cross-state air pollution vote | Logan Banner

Millions of Americans without jobs — and millions more worried the government will destroy their livelihoods — are in no mood for political partisanship. Yet, that is what they got from the U.S. Senate, with a few notable exceptions.

President Barack Obama’s assault on the coal industry has used a series of executive-branch edicts, some issued after Congress refused to authorize similar action. But because Obama’s Democrat Party controls the Senate, the president and his Environmental Protection Agency continue to get away with a campaign that may eliminate millions of jobs.

On Nov. 10, senators were asked to approve a measure rejecting new EPA rules on cross-state air pollution. As its sponsor, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., explained, the resolution would merely have upheld existing law on the subject.

It was defeated, primarily on a party-line vote. Just six Republicans voted against it and just two Democrats voted in favor.

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., was one of the Democrats breaking ranks with party dictates to vote in favor of Paul’s resolution (the other Democrat was Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska).

Manchin is merely keeping a promise he made to the people of West Virginia, to fight for them — not his party.

As much as he merits commendation for his vote, Manchin’s reaction to the defeat was even more praiseworthy. With Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind., he has introduced a new measure on the same subject. It would delay the EPA’s cross-state rules for three years.

At a time when unemployment is a crisis in this country, it makes sense to at least delay the new rule, as Manchin points out.

Manchin is doing the right thing by continuing to battle the EPA. The question now is whether other Democrat senators will join him in fighting for their constituents — or toe their party’s liberal line.