The Senate voted 53-43 Wednesday to overturn the Biden administration’s “waters of the United States” (WOTUS) rule, which expands what waters are subject to federal regulation under the Clean Water Act.
Earlier this month, the House voted 227-198 to overturn the rule, with nine Democrats joining Republicans. Critics of the Biden administration’s rule say its broad definition of “navigable waters” subjects landowners and farmers to burdensome regulations, expanding federal control over small streams and wetlands.
Four Democrats, Nevada Sen. Cortez Masto, Nevada Sen. Jacky Rosen, West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin and Montana Sen. Jon Tester, voted with Republicans to overturn the rule. Independent Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema also voted with Republicans.
“As a third-generation farmer, I know firsthand how important clean water is to Montana’s economy and the health of our communities,” Tester said in a statement. “After listening to Montana farmers, ranchers, and other stakeholders, it’s clear this rule isn’t right for Montana. Clean water is simply too important to our state’s economy and the health of our communities to get this wrong, and the Biden Administration needs to go back to the drawing board to deliver a rule that better supports Montana’s agriculture economy and protects our environment.”
WOTUS rule is WRONG it’s govt overreach at its worst & would handicap landowners in particular family farms. 97% of Iowa land would be regulated by this rule pic.twitter.com/wY5RqgqrY7
— Chuck Grassley (@ChuckGrassley) March 29, 2023
President Biden is expected to veto the vote.
“If the President vetoes it, Americans will need to hope the Supreme Court makes it clear that these EPA bureaucrats are way outside the authority that Congress actually provided in the Clean Water Act,” Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said in a statement.
The Supreme Court heard oral arguments in October for a case that considers the rule, Sackett v. Environmental Protection Agency, a lawsuit brought against the EPA by a couple prevented from building a house on property they own because it contains wetlands.
U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Brown granted a preliminary injunction against the rule last week after 24 state attorneys general sued the Biden administration to prevent it from taking effect.
“Restoring critical protections for waters across the country should be a simple and easily supported effort,” the Sierra Club said in a statement responding to the vote. “Yet a majority of Senators elected to represent the American people have chosen to side with corporate polluters and play politics with one of our most critical natural resources. This is inexcusable.”
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