The House voted Thursday to overturn the Biden administration’s “waters of the U.S.” rule under the Congressional Review Act.
The 227-198 vote on a CRA resolution of disapproval will likely turn out to be symbolic, because even if the Senate passes the resolution, Biden has said he would veto it. Forty-nine Republicans have signed on to the Senate resolution.
The House margin fell far short of the two-thirds majority needed to override a veto.
Nine House Democrats backed the resolution, including the top Democrat on the House Ag Committee, David Scott, and his fellow Georgian, top Democratic ag appropriator Sanford Bishop. Rep. Jimmy Panetta, D-Calif., and House Ag members Jim Costa, D-Calif., Angie Craig, D-Minn., and Don Davis, D-N.C., also voted for it.
One Republican, Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, voted against the resolution.
EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers rule is scheduled to take effect March 20, and the Supreme Court is expected to decide a case soon involving the scope of the agencies’ authority to regulate wetlands.
“President Biden’s new WOTUS rule is a nuclear warhead aimed squarely at our farm families, small businesses, homebuilders, every property owner, and entire communities because of its overreaching definition,” said Rep. David Rouzer, R-N.C., following the vote. “I encourage the Senate to pass this common-sense resolution to push back against onerous rules like this one.” The Transportation and Infrastructure Committee cleared the resolution Feb. 28.
House Agriculture Committee Chairman Glenn “GT” Thompson, R-Pa.,said on the House floor that "farmers, ranchers, and landowners deserve a WOTUS definition that is fair to agriculture and maintains the historical reach of the Clean Water Act – neither of which is accomplished" by the Biden rule.
"Simply recognizing long-standing agriculture exemptions that have been too narrowly applied for decades does not make up for, once again, plunging our rural communities into regulatory ambiguity," he said.
Jim Murphy, director of legal advocacy for the National Wildlife Federation, called the vote “a dangerous effort to undermine the Clean Water Act.
“The vote seeks to invalidate a common-sense rule that simply codifies long-standing protections that are essential to drinking water quality, flood protection, community health, ecosystems, and businesses,” Murphy said. “The resolution is a blunt tool that directly threatens people, communities, and wildlife. The Senate must reject this reckless attempt to undo half a century of progress on clean water.”
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