Ag Policy Blog

Republicans in Congress Keep up Pressure on EPA WOTUS Rule

Chris Clayton
By  Chris Clayton , DTN Ag Policy Editor
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A stream runs through a farm. GOP lawmakers in Congress are seeking to pass resolutions that would force EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers to rescind a rule defining waters of the U.S. (DTN file photo)

Elected Republicans continue to ramp up their campaign against the EPA's waters of the U.S. rule.

On Thursday, GOP lawmakers in both chambers of Congress introduced resolutions of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act. All 48 Republicans in the Senate joined in that chamber. In the House, a resolution was introduced with 152 GOP members, including every Republican member of the House Agriculture Committee.

The resolutions only require a majority vote in each chamber to pass, but would require a two-thirds vote in each chamber to override a veto from President Joe Biden.

The Congressional Review Act resolutions put Democrats and the Biden administration in a bind. A party-line vote would pass the resolution in the House and, though three Democrats in the Senate would have to support the resolution for it to pass. If the bill got to the president's desk, Biden would be faced with signing a resolution saying his own EPA overreached. If Biden vetoes the bill, his administration would come under a cacophony of criticism if the Supreme Court rules against EPA in the Sackett case.

See, "High Court Case Could Roll Back Wetlands Protections in Mississippi Basin,"…

The EPA/Army Corps of Engineers rule came out Dec. 30 and seeks to go back to how the rule was interpreted before 2015. The rule includes exemptions in the Clean Water Act for most farming practices, but the new rule also included language on "significant nexus" of waterways and other standards in determining which waterways fall under federal jurisdiction.

In the House, Rep. Sam Graves, R-Mo., chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, led introduction of a resolution with backing of 152 members

"As American families and businesses continue suffering under the economic crises caused by the disastrous Biden policies of the last two years, this Administration has inexplicably decided to move the country back toward the costly and burdensome WOTUS regulations of the past," Graves said. "In an unnecessary drain on federal resources, the Administration clumsily put forward its rule before the Supreme Court has issued a ruling in the Sackett case, which will affect and alter what the Administration has put forward. Congress has the authority and responsibility to review onerous rules like this one handed down from the Executive Branch, and I hope our colleagues on both sides of the aisle will join in this effort to preserve regulatory clarity and prevent overzealous, unnecessary, and broadly defined federal power."

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., ranking member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, led the introduction of the resolution in the Senate.

"With its overreaching navigable waters rule, the Biden administration upended regulatory certainty and placed unnecessary burdens directly on millions of Americans," Capito said. "This Congressional Review Act resolution of disapproval will give every member of Congress the chance to stand with farmers, ranchers, landowners, and builders, and protect future transportation, infrastructure, and energy projects of all kinds in their states. I appreciate the widespread support we've received in both the Senate and House, and across the country, as we fight to place an important check on this misguided overreach from the Biden administration."

The resolutions come two days after 25 Republican governors sent a letter to President Joe Biden criticizing the rule and making the case that the waters of the U.S. rule would add to inflation.

See, "25 Governors Press Biden Administration to Delay WOTUS Implementation,"…

The WOTUS Rule is already facing litigation from the State of Texas and agricultural groups as well.

See, "Ag Groups, State of Texas Ask Federal Court to Throw Out New WOTUS Rule,"…

Chris Clayton can be reached at

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