November 4, the U.S. Senate passed S.J. Resolution 22 by a vote of 53-44. The joint resolution provides for congressional disapproval under Chapter 8 of Title 5, United States Code, of the rule submitted by the Army Corps of Engineers and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) relating to the definition of “waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell brought up S.J. Res 22 for a vote the day after the Senate’s failed vote to invoke cloture (limit debate) on S. 1140; 60 votes is needed to invoke cloture, but the vote on S. 1140 failed 57-41. With the passage of S.J. Res 22 in the Senate and a comparable bill, H.R. 1732 in the House of Representatives, there is hope that House and Senate leaders can include a provision in a year-end omnibus spending bill to rescind the WOTUS rule and force the US EPA and Army Corps of Engineers to rewrite the rule. The Obama administration strongly supports the WOTUS rule. In contrast, Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell released the following statement this morning:
“The Administration’s so-called ‘Waters of the U.S.’ regulation would grant federal bureaucrats dominion over nearly every piece of land that has ever touched a pothole, ditch or puddle at some point. It would force the Americans who live there to ask federal bureaucrats for permission to do just about anything with their own property.
“We’re not talking about just a few acres falling under bureaucratic control here and there. According to an analysis by the American Farm Bureau, we’re talking about centralized federal control extending to nearly 92 percent of Wisconsin, 95 percent of California, 98 percent of New York, 99 percent of Pennsylvania and, if you can believe this, 100 percent of Virginia.
“This isn’t some clean-water regulation, it’s an unprecedented federal power grab that clumsily, and poorly, pretends to masquerade as one.”