Senate sets debate on WOTUS rule

By Philip Brasher

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WASHINGTON - Oct. 30, 2015 - The Senate is set to debate a pair of measures to strike down the Obama administration's new Clean Water Act rule re-defining the "waters of the United States" that the law regulates. 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell early Friday filed cloture on a bill (S 1140) that would require the administration to write a new WOTUS rule in consultation with state and local governments. 

A cloture vote was set for Tuesday. It would take 60 votes to pass the bill. The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee approved the bill on a party-line vote in June

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The bill, sponsored by John Barrasso, R-Wyo., has 46 cosponsors, including three Democrats. 

“By striking the right balance, we'll restore Washington's attention to the country's traditional waterways, protecting these cherished natural resources. At the same time, we'll give certainty to farmers, ranchers and small-business owners that they can use their property reasonably without fear of constant Washington intervention,” Barrasso said. 

Separately, Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, announced Thursday that she has gathered enough support for a joint resolution of disapproval to bring it to the floor.  She didn't say how many senators supported the measure but 60 votes are required to move legislation in the Senate.

Ernst introduced the resolution last month with 49 colleagues. Federal courts have temporarily blocked the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers from enforcing the WOTUS rule, which was supposed to take in August

Although President Obama would almost certainly veto the measures, the Senate votes would be a test of support for blocking the rule legislatively through a policy rider in the fiscal 2016 spending bill that Congress is expected to consider in December. 

House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers, R-Ky., said this week that no decisions have been made about whether to include a WOTUS rider in the 2016 spending bill.


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(Story updated at 3:30)

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