EPA Rule in Senate Crosshairs
Updated 2:30 p.m. | The Senate will consider legislation Tuesday overturning a piece of President Barack Obama’s environmental agenda, but the votes may not be there for it to advance.
The bill , sponsored by Sen. John Barrasso, would force the Obama administration to rewrite a rule from the summer updating federal pollution regulation of streams and wetlands, which has been panned by detractors as executive overreach. “The recently finalized rule on Waters of the U.S. is the poster child of [Environmental Protection Agency] overreach,” the Wyoming Republican said in a statement. “Many of my colleagues, particularly those from rural states in both parties, have talked about their concern with the rule. This will be their chance to show their constituents that they are ready to do something about it.”
The bill enjoys broad support in the Senate, with three Democratic cosponsors siding with 43 Republicans, and proponents are optimistic the bill will proceed.
It may be a moot point since a federal appeals court earlier this month put a nationwide hold on implementation of the rule .
“Good luck on finding an opponent,” said Donelle Harder, a spokeswoman for Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman James M. Inhofe, R-Okla. “It’ll be hard for members to oppose a vote to overturn a regulation that the courts are pointing to being potentially illegal.”
But a Senate Democratic aide was not so sure it was that simple and doubted enough support existed for the bill to achieve a 60-vote threshold. The aide told CQ Roll Call that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is “not expected to have the votes to get on any of the anti-environment bills that would roll back the president’s ambitious climate or clean water agenda, including this one.”
Even if the Barrasso bill fails to get 60 votes to advance, waiting in the wings is a joint resolution of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act, sponsored by Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, which would require only a simple majority for passage.
But it would still face Obama’s veto pen.