Obama vetoes anti-WOTUS measure

By Philip Brasher

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WASHINGTON, Jan. 19, 2016 - President Obama delivered an expected veto of a congressional resolution that would kill the administration's “waters of the United States” rule redefining the jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act. 

“Because this resolution seeks to block the progress represented by this rule and deny businesses and communities the regulatory certainty and clarity needed to invest in projects that rely on clean water, I cannot support it,” Obama said in his veto message

Republicans were unable to muster veto-proof, two-thirds majorities in either the House and Senate, but GOP leaders believe the measure will serve to highlight election-year differences between the parties

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The WOTUS rule took effect last August, but courts have put it on hold nationwide while legal challenges are considered. The White House blocked Republicans from using the fiscal 2016 omnibus spending bill to ensure that the rule couldn't be enforced if the courts lift the stay. 

The Senate scheduled a vote for Thursday morning on overriding the veto. The House approved the resolution, 255-166, on Jan. 13 with the support of 12 Democrats. The Senate approved the measure in November, 53-44. The resolution was drafted under the Congressional Review Act, which allows Congress to reject major new regulations.

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“We must protect the waters that are vital for the health of our communities and the success of our businesses, agriculture, and energy development,” Obama said. “As I have noted before, too many of our waters have been left vulnerable. Pollution from upstream sources ends up in the rivers, lakes, reservoirs, and coastal waters near which most Americans live and on which they depend for their drinking water, recreation, and economic development.”

The resolution's prime sponsor, Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, said she was still “committed to identifying new ways to push back against this complex, burdensome and overreaching rule.

The National Corn Growers Association said Obama “continues to ignore the will of Congress and the significant impact this will have on our country's farmers at a time when they cannot afford more regulatory confusion and red tape.”

(Updated Jan. 20)

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