Pimkie / CC BY-SA 2.0

On Wednesday, Sen. John McCain made an unexpected move by voting against a bill, supported by President Trump and most Republicans in Congress, that would have eased restrictions on methane emissions resulting from drilling on public land.

The Intercept’s David Dayen not only found McCain’s move to be surprising in and of itself, but he also noted that the timing might have something to do with the outcome of the vote:

Brought up under the Congressional Review Act, the resolution only needed 50 votes to pass the Senate, after already passing the House along party lines. But it failed 49-51.

Senate leaders like Mitch McConnell don’t typically advance votes on legislation unless they know it will pass. The Senate floor is almost never the scene for unexpected activity. So what happened?

It may have been Donald Trump’s firing of James Comey.

Three Republicans voted against repealing the methane rule, which was backed by the president. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Susan Collins, R-Maine, had already announced their intention to vote no before the vote. But John McCain, R-Ariz., “unexpectedly” joined them.

… McCain has a reputation for being a little, shall we say, vindictive. It’s not out of the question at all that he would torpedo this vote, regardless of his ideological preferences, because of a fit of pique about the FBI director he admires getting unceremoniously dumped.

Whatever the reason, environmental concerns trumped business interests in this round, and the Obama-era methane rule remains intact — for now.

–Posted by Kasia Anderson

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