The controversial Clean Water rule known as Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) was the subject of two bills in the Senate on Tuesday and hours of debate on both sides, despite one bill failing to invoke cloture.
The bill that failed was sponsored by Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) and would have instructed EPA to craft a WOTUS rule that “takes into consideration positions held by folks like farmers, ranchers, manufacturers and small businesses.” The legislation had bipartisan legislation and was backed by a number of Democrats, including Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND). “Uncertainty of #WOTUS rule affects everyone,” she tweeted. “Working 2 give certainty 2 farmers & #smallbiz w/ our bipartisan bill.” [wpaudio url=”http://traffic.libsyn.com/zimmcomm/wotus-senate-heitkamp.mp3″ text=”Sen. Heitkamp on WOTUS”]
North Dakota’s Republican Senator John Hoeven also spoke on behalf of the bill that would send WOTUS back to the drawing board. “The federal government should be doing all that it can to empower those who grow our food and create jobs,” said Hoeven. “Instead regulators are stifling growth with burdensome regulation that generates cost and uncertainty.” [wpaudio url=”http://traffic.libsyn.com/zimmcomm/wotus-senate-hoeven.mp3″ text=”Sen. Hoeven on WOTUS”]
The Senate did vote to allow debate on a resolution of disapproval, sponsored by Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA), that would scrap the WOTUS rule entirely. “My legislation is the necessary next step in pushing back against this blatant power grab by the EPA,” said Sen. Ernst. “We will send this to the president, where he will be forced to decide between the livelihood of our rural communities nationwide and his unchecked federal agency.” [wpaudio url=”http://traffic.libsyn.com/zimmcomm/wotus-senate-ernst.mp3″ text=”Sen. Ernst on WOTUS disapproval”]
President Obama has already said he will veto any bill passed by Congress that makes changes in the water rule which has already been put on hold by court cases against it. A vote on Sen. Ernst’s bill will be held on Wednesday.