WASHINGTON — The Republican-controlled Congress on Thursday scrapped Obama-era rules on the environment and guns, counting on a new ally in the White House to help reverse years of what the GOP calls excessive regulation.
The Senate gave final approval to a measure eliminating a rule to prevent coal mining debris from being dumped into nearby streams, while the House backed a separate resolution doing away with extended background checks for gun purchases by some Social Security recipients with mental disabilities.
The Senate’s 54-45 vote sends the repeal of the stream protection rule to President Trump, who is expected to sign it. The gun measure awaits Senate action.
Republicans and some Democrats say the coal-mining rule could eliminate thousands of coal-related jobs and ignores federal, state and local regulations already in place.
The Interior Department, which announced the rule in December, said that it would protect 6,000 miles of streams and 52,000 acres of forests, preventing coal mining debris from being dumped into nearby waters.
The vote was the first in a series of actions Republicans are expected to take to reverse years of what they call excessive regulation under Obama. Rules on fracking, federal contracting, and other issues also are in the cross-hairs as the GOP moves to void a host of regulations finalized during Obama’s last months in office.
In the House, the issue was an Obama rule extending background checks for disabled Social Security recipients mentally incapable of managing their own affairs. The House voted 235-180 to scuttle it. Seven of the nine members of Massachusetts’ all-Democratic delegation voted against the bill; Representatives Stephen Lynch and Katherine Clark did not vote.
Democrats said Republicans were doing the bidding of the National Rifle Association, which opposed the Social Security Administration’s rule.