The Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers finalized a rule that environmental groups say restores protections to streams and headwaters while Republicans called it another example of President Barack Obama’s executive overreach. Obama said that the action will help protect streams, lakes and other smaller bodies of water with connections to rivers and larger bodies of water that are already covered by the Clean Water Act. “This rule will provide the clarity and certainty businesses and industry need about which waters are protected by the Clean Water Act, and it will ensure polluters who knowingly threaten our waters can be held accountable,” Obama said in a statement released on Tuesday. “My Administration has made historic commitments to clean water, from restoring iconic watersheds like the Chesapeake Bay and the Great Lakes to preserving more than a thousand miles of rivers and other waters for future generations,” he continued. Essentially the Waters of the United States rule, as it is known, formalizes what the Clean Water Act means for “navigable waters.”
Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich of New Mexico were in the minority in voting against what they call a fast-track for trade deals, including a deal with Pacific Rim countries that is being negotiated right now. Republicans overwhelmingly supported the bill. It is a very rare instance where Republicans have sided with Obama on a controversial issue. Obama has publicly clashed with Senators from his own party over the bill. Heinrich and Udall, both Democrats, had some high profile members of their party on their side.
Senator Martin Heinrich will not attend an address to Congress by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, his office told New Mexico Political Report on Friday afternoon. Heinrich said he will watch the speech about Iran in his office but that he will not attend the speech because he views it as Netanyahu “using the floor of the United States Congress as a stage for his election campaign.” Here is the full statement from Heinrich provided to New Mexico Political Report:I am always happy to listen to what Prime Minister Netanyahu has to say. I intend to watch his speech about Iran from my office, but I have strong objections to using the floor of the United States Congress as a stage for his election campaign–or anyone’s for that matter. The U.S.-Israeli alliance is too important to be politically exploited just days before Israeli voters go to the polls.Many view the speech as a way to bolster Netanyahu’s upcoming reelection bid.
At least three of the members of the New Mexico congressional delegation plan on attending a speech to Congress by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on March 3. A spokeswoman for Sen. Martin Heinrich told New Mexico Political Report that he has not decided whether to attend but “he has concerns.” The office of Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham did not provide an answer, though this post will be updated when an answer is provided. Several members of Congress, all Democrats, have announced that they will not attend Netanyahu’s address to the joint session of Congress. The dispute comes over the fact that Speaker of the House John Boehner invited Netanyahu to address Congress without consulting the White House.
[box type=”info” style=”rounded”]RICK LASS is a graduate of St. John’s College and a veteran of New Mexico politics. A former Green Party candidate for the PRC, Lass is heavily involved in good government and voting rights issues and runs the blog www.votingmatters.net[/box]
Happily, someone in the main stream is talking about the possibilities of a multiparty system. Blogger Philip Bump has a brief piece in the Washington Post imagining our Congress divided into four parties, based on how current members voted on the recent budget bill. From the article:
If we assign members of Congress to political parties based on the spending votes, we end up with four parties.
Rep. Steve Pearce voted for Speaker of the House John Boehner to keep his position as Speaker of the House Tuesday. It normally isn’t a story when a Republican votes for a Republican to lead the chamber (or, for that matter, when Democrat votes for a Democrat). However, the Ohio Republican faced down the largest defection against a Speaker by his own party in 150 years. Pearce not only voted against Boehner in 2013, he later called it his most popular vote ever. Pearce backed Eric Cantor in that vote.