US Senate News:
Source: United States Senator Kevin Cramer (R-ND)
“I’m not interested in a show vote.”
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Ranking Member of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure, delivered remarks on the Senate floor regarding his Amendment (#1241) to defund the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) proposed rule requiring state departments of transportation and metropolitan planning organizations set declining greenhouse gas emissions targets from roadway travel on the National Highway System.
The amendment was germane and bipartisan, requiring only 50 votes for passage, but Senate Democrats demanded a 60-vote threshold to ensure its defeat. Senator Cramer withdrew the amendment, and stated he will introduce a Congressional Review Act (CRA) Joint Resolution of Disapproval if the Biden administration finalizes the rule.
“Senate Democrats would rather provide the Biden administration cover by taking a show vote designed to fail rather than following real regular order. The will of the Senate should prevail here, but they are not going to let it,” said Senator Cramer. “This appropriation limitation amendment would prevent the United States Department of Transportation from finalizing their illegal rule requiring states to measure CO2 tailpipe emissions and then set declining targets for individual states on the roadways.”
Many states, particularly large, rural states, criticized the proposal as one-size-fits all mandate with no meaningful flexibility and entirely unpractical in areas where traffic congestion and emissions are already scarce. More importantly, Congress has not provided any statutory authority for the DOT to make this proposal.
Congress debated and explicitly rejected language to authorize this type of greenhouse gas performance of measure during the development of the highway bill, which later became the foundation of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
Organizations supporting the amendment include: the Associated General Contractors of America, American Road & Transportation Builders Association, American Concrete Pipe Association, American Council of Engineering Companies, American Highway Users Alliance, American Institute of Steel Construction, American Motorcyclist Association, American Trucking Associations, Associated Equipment Distributors, National Ready Mix Concrete Association, National Steel Bridge Alliance, National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association, and National Utility Contractors Association.
A copy of the transcript can be found below.
I call up my amendment number 1241 and ask that it be reported by number as I intend to withdraw it shortly due to majority party mischief.
The Senate has been preaching regular order for some time, and I have been cheering them on. I’ve been a strong advocate for regular order, because we need a process that engages all the members of this body. But one must ask, why my bipartisan, germane amendment is deemed a “poison pill” and now needs 60 votes to pass.
I know the answer, it’s simple: because it was going to pass! That’s why it’s a “poison pill.”
Senate Democrats would rather provide the Biden administration cover by taking a show vote designed to fail rather than following real regular order. The will of the Senate should prevail here, but they are not going to let it. This appropriation limitation amendment would prevent the United States Department of Transportation from finalizing their illegal rule requiring states to measure CO2 tailpipe emissions and then set declining targets for individual states on their roadways.
Mr. President, Congress has not provided any authority for the Department of Transportation to dictate CO2 performance requirements. They can’t do what they don’t have the authority to do. Even if we had, it’s not a workable solution. It may be hard for bureaucrats in Washington D.C. to imagine this, but you cannot tell states like North Dakota and Montana that to reduce tailpipe emissions is easy, ‘just build a subway,’ or dedicate bus lanes on your gravel roads.
That’s why, Mr. President, a majority of states in this country have submitted comments expressing their concern and outright opposing this rule. When the Environment Public Works Committee negotiated the last highway bill, we expressly left this authority out. We made the decision to not give this authority to the Department of Transportation. And I’d note that bill moved out of committee unanimously and then became the cornerstone of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
Ironically, the Biden administration created the poison pill that this amendment is meant to address. Mr. President, I’m not interested in show votes, so I am going to withdraw the amendment.
The administration should scrap this rule, but if they finalize it, I will be back. I will be back with a CRA resolution, and then Senate Democrats can’t force a 60-vote majority on that one. And I will then lead an amicus brief pointing to the major questions doctrine which the Department of Transportation clearly violates with their rule.
With that, I yield.