2016 GOP hopefuls unite to block EPA water rule

2016 GOP hopefuls unite to block EPA water rule
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The major Republican presidential candidates have united around a bill to stop the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) controversial rule redefining its jurisdiction over bodies of water.

Sen. Rand PaulRand PaulSenate Republicans reluctant to rush vote on healthcare bill Healthcare bill 'not the last step' to repealing ObamaCare, Republican says Rand Paul: 'If you offer me a 90 percent repeal, I'd probably vote for it' MORE (R-Ky.) announced the Defense of Environment and Property Act Friday, with Sens. Ted CruzTed CruzSenate Republicans reluctant to rush vote on healthcare bill Healthcare bill 'not the last step' to repealing ObamaCare, Republican says Dem senator: GOP's healthcare approach will 'devastate Medicaid' MORE (R-Texas) and Marco RubioMarco RubioElection hacking fears turn heat on Homeland Security Will Republicans stand up to the NRA's insurrection rhetoric? The Hill's Whip List: Senate ObamaCare repeal bill MORE (R-Fla.) among the original co-sponsors. All three have announced their presidential candidacy in recent weeks.

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The bill would block the “waters of the United States rule,” proposed by the agencies to reassert their power over streams, ponds, wetlands and other small waterways that feed into bigger ones.

“Every year, thousands of property owners across America fall victim to the EPA and Army Corps of Engineer’s bullying tactics,” Paul said in a statement about his bill.

“I firmly believe it is the landowners’ constitutional rights to do what they please with their own property,” he said. “The time has come to bring common sense back to the federal jurisdiction over navigable waters and place necessary limitations on out-of-control government agencies.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) are also co-sponsoring the measure.

In public statements, the presidential candidates have been cordial to one another, and the united front against the EPA rule shows that they are willing to cooperate on some priorities.

Republicans have long lambasted the proposed rule, calling it a massive overreach that would give the federal government authority over large swaths of private and state land, at the expense of property owners, farmers, developers and others.

They say it would give the EPA power over puddles, ditches and areas that are rarely wet, and require permits for any actions that would harm those areas.

But the EPA and Democrats say those concerns are overblown, and that the regulation would not significantly increase the federal government’s jurisdiction.

The agencies sent the final version of the rule to the White House this month for its final review.