Florida Congressman Steve Southerland’s bill restricting the power of the Environmental Protection Agency has cleared the U.S. House of Representatives. It’s unlikely the measure will get through the Senate.
Southerland’s bill aims to stop the EPA from clarifying which water bodies it regulates. The House has approved the bill on a vote of 261 to 152. It’s unlikely the bill will reach the Senate this Congressional session. Even if it does, it’s almost guaranteed not to pass.
But Florida Southern College political science Professor Bruce Anderson says the bill has served another purpose for Southerland.
“What is does is, it allows him to go back to his base and say, ‘I’m against the further extension of government power, and here’s a substantive expression of that in an actual piece of legislation that I have passed, that I have pushed through the House,’” Anderson says.
Southerland's opponents remain firm in their belief that his policies won’t be enough to retain his seat in Congress.
Tallahassee activist Barbara DeVane, who joined a group of protestors outside of Southerland’s Tallahassee office this morning, says voters of Florida’s second district will find issues like protecting Florida’s water more important than restricting government power.
“I don’t care if you’re conservative, liberal, Republican, Democrat, Republican-Libertarian, when you turn on your faucet every morning you want clean water," Devane says. "And sometimes the government needs to be there to make sure you do have clean water.”
Southerland will face off for the seat against Democratic candidate Gwen Graham, daughter of former Florida Gov. and U.S. Sen. Bob Graham, in November’s election.
Anderson says the race will prove to be an exciting one given the division among the district’s voters.
“This is going to be a really good race," Anderson says. "This is going to be a race that I think defines many of the classifications of ideology in Florida, and it’s well worth watching.”
Anderson says he expects Graham’s name alone will draw Democrats out on election day.