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.


Democratic Sens. Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampBill Maher blasts removal of journalist at Teen Vogue Centrist Democrats pose major problem for progressives Harrison seen as front-runner to take over DNC at crucial moment MORE (N.D.), Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyEverybody wants Joe Manchin Centrist Democrats pose major problem for progressives Biden and Schumer face battles with left if Democrats win big MORE (Ind.) and Joe ManchinJoe ManchinGame of votes — why budget reconciliation isn't the answer Democrats need Why President Biden is all-in in infrastructure Senators in the dark on parliamentarian's decision MORE (W.Va.) joined Senate Republicans in voting to proceed with the veto override. Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsTrump looms over Senate's anti-Asian hate crimes battle Moderates' 0B infrastructure bill is a tough sell with Democrats OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Senate confirms Mallory to lead White House environment council | US emissions dropped 1.7 percent in 2019 | Interior further delays Trump rule that would make drillers pay less to feds 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 McConnellTrump looms over Senate's anti-Asian hate crimes battle Appointing a credible, non-partisan Jan. 6 commission should not be difficult Why President Biden is all-in in infrastructure 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 ReidThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Tax March - CDC in limbo on J&J vax verdict; Rep. Brady retiring Biden to tap Erika Moritsugu as new Asian American and Pacific Islander liaison White House races clock to beat GOP attacks 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.