The lengthy absence of Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA) is hindering the slim majority Democrats hold in the U.S. Senate, enabling Republicans to undermine efforts to protect Americans from air pollution.
When the slim Democratic majority in the U.S. Senate relies on faux-Democrat Joe Manchin and former faux-Democrat Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ), it’s especially critical for the rest of the Democrats to be on the spot and usher through critical climate legislation Republicans have been opposing for decades. And it’s equally important to quash efforts to undermine policies designed to protect Americans.
Feinstein, 89, hospitalized while battling shingles, has missed 60 of the 82 Senate votes this year. And her absence was particularly acute Apr. 26, when Senate Republicans and Manchin led the approval of pro-pollution S.J.Res. 11, which kills an Environmental Protection Agency rule that would have limited air pollution and carbon emissions from new heavy-duty trucks.
The resolution narrowly passed, 50-49. A vote from Feinstein would have quashed that effort.
The EPA rule from Jan. 24 , 2023 would have resulted in annual health benefits outweighing the annual costs to the trucking industry by as much as $29 billion by 2045. An estimated 72 million people live within 656 feet of a truck freight route, including childcare facilities and schools, according to the EPA.
The exhaust from heavy-duty vehicles emits high concentrations of air pollutants the EPA cites as “a threat to public health, which includes premature death, respiratory illness (including childhood asthma), cardiovascular problems, and other adverse health impacts.”
Feinstein has said she will not seek re-election, but her continued absence from key Senate votes is undermining President Joe Biden’s efforts to enact his bold climate agenda. Her retirement would allow Gov. Gavin Newsome to replace her with another Democrat, and help keep the slim Democratic majority intact.