As President Barack Obama works to hammer out a global climate agreement in Paris, Republicans in Congress are moving to block his plan to force steep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions from U.S. power plants.
The House approved two resolutions Tuesday disapproving Obama's power-plant rules and rendering them inoperative. The measures were approved 242-180 and 235-188.
The votes come after the Senate approved identical motions last month under a little-used law that allows Congress to block executive actions it considers onerous. The White House has vowed to veto the maneuver.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said Obama wants to reduce carbon emissions, but his policies will kill jobs, increase electricity costs and decrease the reliability of the U.S. energy supply.
Rep. Jeff Duncan, R-S.C., added that he wished Obama took the threat posed by "radical jihadists" as seriously as he takes what Duncan called a "pseudoscientific threat" posed by climate change.
Democrats countered that the power-plant rules were important steps to slow global climate change that is already causing real harm through increased droughts, wildfires, floods and more severe storms.
Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., said it was regrettable that Republicans were trying to block the power-plant rules even as officials from more than 190 countries and many of the world's largest private companies gathered in Paris to work out details of a global agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The global agreement "will prevent us from further overheating the earth and causing major disruptions to people's lives, their property and to the global economy," Pallone said. "We know that [climate change] will endanger our children's future if we don't act now."
The new rules being imposed by the Obama administration require states to cut carbon emissions by 32 percent by 2030, based on emissions in 2005. Each state has a customized target and is responsible for drawing up an effective plan to meet its goal.
The EPA says it has authority to enact the plan under the Clean Air Act.
The GOP challenged the administration's action under the little-used Congressional Review Act, which allows Congress to block executive actions with simple majority votes. The maneuver is subject to a presidential veto and has rarely been successful.
The White House issued a veto threat last month, saying the resolutions undermine public health protections of the Clean Air Act and "stop critical U.S. efforts to reduce dangerous carbon pollution from power plants."
Speaking in Paris Tuesday, Obama said parts of a global climate agreement should be legally binding. His declaration was both a boost to climate negotiators seeking a tough accord and a challenge to Republicans in Congress, many of whom reject the science behind global warming.
Republican Rep. Ed Whitfield of Kentucky said GOP lawmakers were forcing a vote on the climate rule to "send a message to the climate conference in Paris that in America, there's serious disagreement with the policies of this president."
The Associated Press