GOP senators move to overturn Obama’s water rule

GOP senators move to overturn Obama’s water rule
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Nearly the entire Senate Republican caucus sponsored legislation Thursday that would overturn the Obama administration’s regulation asserting its authority over streams and wetlands.

The resolution, led by Sen. Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstOvernight Finance: McConnell, Schumer spar over debt limit | WH says tax reform depends on Dems | Mnuchin doubts Trump’s corporate tax goal possible | Dem wants criminal probe of Equifax stock sales | Mystery surrounds Cordray’s plans GOP senator calls for caps on ex-presidents' benefits Senate approves Trump's debt deal with Democrats MORE (R-Iowa), takes advantage of the Congressional Review Act, which gives lawmakers a streamlined method to block regulations.

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The senators complain that the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Waters of the United States rule, which was made final in May, greatly expands the federal government’s authority over waterways and land that has been under private or state control.

“This ill-conceived rule ignores the thoughtful comments and serious concerns raised by farmers, ranchers, manufacturers and small businesses across the county,” Ernst said in a statement.

“Furthermore, its expanded definition causes confusion, uncertainty and unnecessary red tape. Simply put, this one size fits all method is the wrong approach that puts our agriculture community at a disadvantage.”

Forty-six senators had signed on as co-sponsors as of late Thursday.

In order to block the rule, the House would also have to pass a disapproval resolution and President Obama would have to sign it — an unlikely scenario, given the high stakes of the regulation.

The Obama administration has argued that the rule is necessary to clarify protections under the Clean Water Act for headwaters, ponds, small streams, wetlands and other small bodies of water.

The regulation took effect last month, but a federal judge in North Dakota blocked it for 13 states while legal challenges are being worked through.