Senate fails to override Obama veto

Senate fails to override Obama veto

Senate Republicans fell short Thursday in their attempt to override a veto from President Obama and repeal a contentious water regulation from the Environmental Protection Agency.

Fifty-two senators voted to move forward with an attempt to override Obama’s veto of the resolution, short of the 60 votes needed.

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Democratic Sens. Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampPawlenty opts out of Senate run in Minnesota GOP's Cramer won't run for ND Senate seat GOP Rep. Cramer 'trending' toward ND Senate run MORE (N.D.), Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyDems search for winning playbook GOP anxious with Trump on trade Blue wave of 2018 stops in Indiana and Missouri MORE (Ind.) and Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinMcConnell to Dems: Don't hold government 'hostage' over DACA Lawmakers see shutdown’s odds rising Senate campaign fundraising reports roll in MORE (W.Va.) joined Senate Republicans in voting to proceed with the veto override. Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsDemocrats search for 51st net neutrality vote Overnight Tech: States sue FCC over net neutrality repeal | Senate Dems reach 50 votes on measure to override repeal | Dems press Apple on phone slowdowns, kids' health | New Android malware found Overnight Regulation: Dems claim 50 votes in Senate to block net neutrality repeal | Consumer bureau takes first step to revising payday lending rule | Trump wants to loosen rules on bank loans | Pentagon, FDA to speed up military drug approvals MORE (Maine) was the only Republican to vote against.

Even if the Senate had achieved cloture on the resolution, final passage would have required a two-thirds majority in both chambers of Congress — a steep climb.

The 52-40 Thursday vote closes the latest chapter in the GOP’s push to stop the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) attempt to assert power over small waterways like streams and wetlands. The Clean Water Rule or “waters of the United States” was made final last year. 

The legislation at issue was written under the Congressional Review Act, which gives lawmakers the power to overturn regulations. But resolutions blocking federal rules are subject to a presidential veto and require a two-thirds majority for to be overridden. 

The GOP argues the water rule can be interpreted to give the EPA power over nearly all land in the country, requiring federal permits under the Clean Water Act for any action that changes or harms the land, including digging ditches. 

“The administration has tried to spin WOTUS as some ‘clean-water measure,’ but a bipartisan majority of Congress understands it’s really a federal power grab clumsily masquerading as one,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSessions: 'We should be like Canada' in how we take in immigrants NSA spying program overcomes key Senate hurdle Overnight Finance: Lawmakers see shutdown odds rising | Trump calls for looser rules for bank loans | Consumer bureau moves to revise payday lending rule | Trump warns China on trade deficit MORE (R-Ky.) said of the regulation on the Senate floor.

“WOTUS would grant federal bureaucrats dominion over nearly every piece of land that touches a pothole, ditch, or puddle. It could force the Americans who live there to ask federal bureaucrats for permission to do just about anything with their own property,” he said. 

Democrats say the rule is necessary to ensure that vulnerable waterways are protected from pollution and harm, after Supreme Court rulings that put their protections at risk. 

Senate Minority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidDems search for winning playbook Dems face hard choice for State of the Union response The Memo: Immigration battle tests activists’ muscle MORE (D-Nev.) accused Republicans of wasting time on the override vote.

“Today, my Republican colleagues have chosen to once again attack clean water protections that millions of Americans depend on,” Reid said. 

“The Clean Water Rule resolves years of confusion, provides regulatory certainty for businesses, farmers, local governments and communities. It creates no new permitting requirements and it maintains all previous exemptions and exclusions,” he said. 

The EPA has yet to enforce the water rule; a federal court has blocked its implementation while opponents, including farmers and developers, pursue a legal challenge.

—This story was updated at 11:16 a.m.