Trump administration angers vulnerable Republicans with offshore-drilling expansion and marijuana crackdown

THE BIG IDEA: With the proposed expansion of offshore drilling and a crackdown on marijuana, the Trump administration created huge political headaches Thursday for scores of Republicans who were already facing a tough environment in 2018.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions revoked Obama-era guidance to make it easier for federal prosecutors to enforce existing marijuana laws in the eight states that have legalized the substance.

Interior Secretary , meanwhile, unveiled a proposal to permit drilling in most continental-shelf waters, including protected areas of the Arctic and the Atlantic, in a boon for oil companies.

Both moves are unpopular with voters, especially key people in places that are likely to determine whether the GOP holds the House. In practice, these two stories probably pose bigger challenges for the president’s party in the midterms than any book about White House dysfunction. A Gallup poll in October found that 64 percent of Americans want to legalize marijuana, including a 51 percent majority of Republicans. Support is also particularly strong among millennial voters who Democrats are trying to galvanize for the midterms.

This explains why most elected Republicans in places that are directly impacted moved swiftly to distance themselves. For example, Trump lost by nine points in the suburban Denver district represented by Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.), making him one of the most endangered House Republicans on the ballot this November. “Attorney General Sessions needs to read the Commerce Clause found in Article 1, Section 8, Clause 3 of the U.S. Constitution that limits the power of the federal government to regulate interstate and not intrastate commerce,” Coffman said in a statement. “The decision that was made to legalize marijuana in Colorado was made by the voters of Colorado and only applies within the boundaries of our state. Colorado had every right to legalize marijuana and I will do everything I can to protect that right against the power of an overreaching federal government.”



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