WASHINGTON, April 21, 2015 – The White House says it's "irresponsible" for House appropriators to use a spending bill to block the administration from implementing new definitions of what streams, ponds and other features are regulated under the Clean Water Act.
A provision in the fiscal 2016 Energy and Water spending bill would prevent the administration from enforcing a proposed rule starting Oct. 1.
In a letter to the House Appropriations Committee, which is scheduled to debate the legislation on Wednesday, the Office of Management and Budget said the bill included several “highly problematic ideological riders,” including language that could “threaten to undermine our ability to protect a resource that is essential to health-clean water.
“This is irresponsible. American families are counting on us to take responsible steps to protect our children's health. American businesses -- from manufacturing and brewing to farming and ranching -- cannot function without clean water. The species we depend on and the places we love for recreation cannot survive without it.”
The rule, which would re-define “waters of the United States” (WOTUS), is in final review at OMB. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy has told lawmakers the final rule will include a number of revisions to address concerns raised by farmers and others about the initial version, but she has not disclosed details of the changes.
The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee last week approved a separate bill (HR 1732) that would force the administration to withdraw the rule, but the measure drew only two Democratic votes and has little chance of becoming law.
The appropriations process gives Republicans their best chance of stopping enforcement of the rule, since vetoing spending bills could shut down government agencies.
The letter also makes a reference to a rider that would allow possession of firearms on land controlled by the Army Corps of Engineers, objecting to a measure that would "undercut efforts to maintain public and employee safety at Army Corps facilities."