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 HeitkampPoll: GOP challenger narrowly leads Heitkamp in North Dakota Trump plan to claw back billion in spending in peril Manchin becomes final Democrat to back bill preventing separation of immigrant families MORE (N.D.), Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyActress Marcia Gay Harden urges Congress to boost Alzheimer's funding Manchin becomes final Democrat to back bill preventing separation of immigrant families Dems seek to leverage ObamaCare fight for midterms MORE (Ind.) and Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinKaine shares photos of child detention facility: ‘The real Trump Hotel’ Manchin becomes final Democrat to back bill preventing separation of immigrant families Manchin touts support for Trump border wall in new ad MORE (W.Va.) joined Senate Republicans in voting to proceed with the veto override. Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsActress Marcia Gay Harden urges Congress to boost Alzheimer's funding 13 GOP senators ask administration to pause separation of immigrant families Trump plan to claw back billion in spending in peril 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 McConnellWarren on family separation policy: Trump is ‘taking America to a dark and ugly place’ Senate GOP tries to defuse Trump border crisis Schumer rejects GOP proposal to address border crisis 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 ReidAmendments fuel resentments within Senate GOP Donald Trump is delivering on his promises and voters are noticing Danny Tarkanian wins Nevada GOP congressional primary 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.