[UPDATE: All four amendments to block EPA went down to defeat in the Senate today. McConnell’s, the one that would block EPA permanently, got only 50 votes — not as many Dem crossovers as expected. This isn’t the end, of course; it was just stage-setting. The big bid is to attach an amendment to a must-pass bill. But if Republicans insist on maximalism, it looks like they’re not going to get very far with it.]

Both houses of Congress are voting on measures to block EPA climate rules today. It’s unclear where things stand at the moment; it’ll be clearer tomorrow. (The House will pass something for sure; all eyes are on the Senate.)

The best news I’ve heard all day is Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) saying that his bill — a two-year delay of EPA rules, which would amount to the same thing as killing them outright — isn’t going to make it to 60 votes because Republicans (and the loathsome Joe Manchin [D-W.Va.]) have bailed on it.

I’ve been saying from the beginning that the best hope for defending EPA is not Democratic leadership. They’re not the best hope for anything, I’m afraid. The best hope is Republican overreach. And it looks like that’s happening, right on schedule.

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Republicans smell blood in the water and think this will be huge electoral issue for them. They’ve even convinced Dems of it, despite the fact that every poll shows their position to be wildly unpopular across parties and regions. In the hothouse atmosphere of D.C., where everyone’s reading Politico and watching the same few cable news channels and interacting with wealthy people all day, it’s easy to lose touch with reality.

Because they’re all worked up, and the Tea Party tail is now wagging the Republican dog, it looks like Republicans are going to go for the big prize, a permanent shutdown of EPA carbon consideration.

That’s good news. Such a strategy is easily characterized as “extreme” and much easier for Obama to veto. He semi-threatened a veto yesterday, so he clearly feels like he’s on reasonably firm political ground.

The way forward for the GOP was always to attach an EPA blocker as a rider to a big, high-profile bill that Obama will be loathe to veto. The best way to make sure he does veto it — or it dies stillborn in the Senate — is to make it as extreme as possible. It looks like that’s what they’re going to do.

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