President Trump is scheduled to sign a bill Thursday to roll back the Obama administration’s midnight regulations on the coal industry.
The bill, called a resolution of disapproval, was passed by the Senate and House using special powers under the Congressional Review Act to reverse regulations.
The resolution would repeal the Interior Department’s Stream Protection Rule, which critics said was rushed out in the waning weeks of the Obama administration, piling on strict new rules for the coal mining industry that will add significant cost and lead to job losses. The rule bans mining companies from putting waste in streams.
The bill signing follows a key procedural vote, 54-46, in the Senate earlier Thursday to consider the confirmation of Trump’s pick to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt.
The vote sets up a final vote on Pruitt’s confirmation expected Friday. Democrats are using floor speeches throughout Thursday to rail against Pruitt as the wrong choice to lead the EPA.
Republicans from coal states made remarks after the procedural vote that Pruitt would be the right choice to roll back overreaching regulations that have led to the closure of coal-fired power plants and the loss of thousands of coal mining jobs.
Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., a top Republican on the Senate environment committee, touted Trump’s signing of the resolution later Thursday as a step in the right direction for her state’s coal industry.
President Trump on Thursday borrowed a page from his predecessor’s playbook, telling reporters he “inherited a mess” from the previous administration and has been working overtime to clean it up.
At a surprise press conference dedicated to announcing his new nominee for Labor secretary, Trump offered a lengthy opening statement in which he detailed a variety of steps he characterized as accomplishments, a clear effort to respond to critics who charge that the White House is disorganized.
“There has never been a presidency that has done so much in such a short time,” he said.
Trump said he took office facing “a mess” both at home and abroad.
“I inherited a mess. Jobs are pouring out of the country, you see what’s going on with all of the companies leaving our country,” Trump said. “Low pay, low wages, mass instability overseas no matter where you look – the Middle East, North Korea.”
“I just want you to know, I inherited a mess,” he repeated.
The president said his fledgling administration is “running like a fine-tuned machine” and has already accomplished much of what he promised his supporters during his campaign. He specifically touted his recently announced joint task force on women’s entrepreneurship with Canadian leaders, and his “enormously productive talks with foreign leaders” since taking office.
Administration officials, including Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, have been laser-focused on preventing Islamic State extremists from entering the U.S. or gaining influence overseas, Trump said.
“ISIS has spread like cancer — another mess I inherited,” he said, later adding that “our administration is working night and day to keep [Americans] safe.”
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