Senate Disapproves EPA’s WOTUS Rule

On Wednesday, Nov. 4, the U.S. Senate passed a Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution by a vote of 53-44 to rescind EPA’s Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule.

As written, WOTUS dramatically expands the EPA’s jurisdiction under the guise of protecting waters, yet the rule lacks sound scientific or legal justification.  The resolution now goes to the House for passage, although the time frame is uncertain. Then, it must be signed by the President in order to take effect. The CRA is a rarely-used tool that allows Congress to reject a regulation issued by federal agencies.

Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, led discussion of the CRA resolution after another related bill, S. 1140, did not receive the 60 votes needed to move forward to debate.

“Both S. 1140 and the CRA have vote garnered bipartisan support, clearly indicating that concern over WOTUS by Democrats and Republicans,” said Pam Whitted, NSSGA senior vice president of government and regulatory affairs.

A recent nationwide stay enacted by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals currently is keeping the rule from being enforced, but it could be years before the rule is considered by the U.S. Supreme Court. NSSGA continues to engage EPA, the Army Corps of Engineers and Congress to explore options to force EPA to withdraw the rule and re-propose one that reflects the comments and guidance provided by states, large and businesses and groups like NSSGA.