Created: 11/04/15 (Wed) | Topic: Issues
Senate falls short on WOTUS rule
On Tuesday, the Senate failed to secure the 60 votes needed to advance to full debate on a bill that would put in check the EPA and its attempt to broaden the definition of Waters of the U.S.
"While the effort to send the flawed Waters of the U.S. rule back to the drawing board fell a few votes short, we applaud members of the U.S. Senate who today stood up for farmers and ranchers," American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman said in a statement. "While we are disappointed in the vote, we know this issue will remain a critical one for America's farmers and ranchers, and we will continue our fight to protect them from federal regulatory overreach."
EPA's controversial WOTUS rule gives federal agencies new powers to regulate many normal farming, ranching and business activities, making it the largest federal overreach in memory. The rule went into effect in August, but in early October the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ordered the EPA to stop enforcement nationwide of the rule. The decision expands a stay that a North Dakota judge imposed the day before the rule took effect, and that only applied to 13 states.
Farmers and ranchers are confident the courts will strike down this rule, but cases like this almost always take years to win-and stays don't last forever, so they and many other landowners were urging the Senate to pass legislation that would nullify the rule, just as the House has already done.
The Senate bill, the Federal Water Quality Protection Act (S. 1140), would force EPA and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to scrap its own, extreme interpretation of the Clean Water Act and craft a new rule that would fall within the parameters of Congress' intent. The EPA and Army Corps would be required to take into consideration the valid concerns of farmers, ranchers, home builders and others who would be affected by the new rule.
On Wednesday, the Senate voted 53-44 to passa a reso.lution to disapprove the WOTUS rule. The resolution, introduced by Iowa Republican Joni Ernst in September, now heads to the House for consideration, though the White House has already issued a veto threat to all the WOTUS efforts.
Because the measure was a resolution considered under provisions of the Congressional Review Act, it only required a simple majority rather than 60 votes to advance.