U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein is facing fresh calls to resign after her extended absence—and Sen. Joe Manchin’s inclination to partner with Republicans—led to the Wednesday passage of a resolution to roll back Biden administration emissions standards for heavy-duty trucks.
In a 50-49 vote, Manchin, D-W.Va.—a fossil fuel industry beneficiary known for obstructing his own party’s priorities, particularly on climate policy—joined all Senate Republicans to narrowly pass the Congressional Review Act resolution, which the White House has said President Joe Biden will veto if it is also approved by the GOP-controlled House of Representatives.
Feinstein, D-Calif., an 89-year-old who plans to retire when her term expires in January 2025, has been away from Capitol Hill since late February recovering from shingles. She has already faced pressure to step down because without her vote on the Senate Judiciary Committee, the GOP can block Biden’s judicial nominees—and Republicans have prevented Democrats from temporarily replacing her on the panel.
“Because Sen. Feinstein was absent, the Senate overturned a Biden rule that would cut pollution from heavy-duty trucks and causes harm to people’s lungs. We are putting decorum over democracy and our values. It’s time for Sen. Feinstein to step down gracefully,” Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., said Thursday morning.
Khanna—who is supporting Congresswoman Barbara Lee, one of three California Democrats running to fill Feinstein’s Senate seat next year—is one of a handful of House Democrats who have previously called for the veteran lawmaker to step down.
Democratic strategist and communications consultant Sawyer Hackett similarly said Wednesday night that “Feinstein’s refusal to resign negates the expanded Senate majority Democrats overcame tremendous odds to achieve.”
“Republican measures are passing in a Democratic Senate,” Hackett stressed. “Step down.”
Also emphasizing the Senate GOP’s power under current conditions, San Francisco-based immigration attorney Jeremy Rosenberg tweeted: “Unconscionable. Yet completely avoidable. It’s past time for Sen. Feinstein to step down.”
Rosenberg further noted that if Feinstein were to acquiesce to resignations demands, Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom would be responsible for selecting her replacement.
While calls for Feinstein to exit the Senate mounted, Manchin came under fire as “a one-man pollution machine” for what one reporter described as his “warpath against his own party.”
Echoing Senate Republicans, Manchin claimed Wednesday that “the Biden administration wants to burden the trucking industry with oppressive regulations that will increase prices by thousands of dollars and push truck drivers and small trucking companies out of business,” and warned against enabling the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to “continue to seize unrestrained power.”
As Roll Call detailed Wednesday:
The EPA’s nitrogen oxide (NOx) rule, finalized in December, requires heavy- and medium-duty vehicles starting in model year 2027 to meet the “most stringent” emissions reduction option first proposed by the agency a year ago.
Nitrogen oxides are produced from fuel burning and mix with other pollutants in the atmosphere to create smog and acid rain. High levels of smog have been linked to respiratory diseases and asthma. The EPA estimates that the rule will reduce NOx emissions from the heavy-duty truck fleet by 48 percent by 2045.
If the most ambitious goals outlined in the rule are met by 2045, the EPA projects that early onset asthma cases among children will decline by 18,000 per year and premature deaths will go down by 2,900 annually.
Evergreen Action highlighted in a series of tweets that “heavy-duty vehicles are a MAJOR source of NOx pollution that contributes to negative health impacts like lung and heart diseases—and are especially harmful to low-income, Black, and Brown communities that live near major roads and ports.”
“Meanwhile, many automakers have already committed to transitioning to zero-emissions vehicles, and the cost of electrifying heavy-duty vehicles is getting cheaper every year,” the group added. “The Biden administration has also already committed to vetoing the resolution if it passes the House, but it is still shameful to see Republicans trying to undermine the right of every American to breathe clean air.”
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