EPA Wotus Ruling

Effort to Block WOTUS Fails in Senate; But Resolution of Disapproval Moves Forward

In Washington on Wednesday, the Senate defeated a motion to bring to the floor a bill that would have forced the Obama administration to replace its controversial Waters of the United States (WOTUS), now officially known as the Clean Water Rule.

The measure, proposed by Sen. John Barasso, of Wyoming, fell just two votes short of the 60 needed, with Democrats Claire McCaskill, of Missouri, Joe Donnelly, of Indiana, Joe Manchin, of West Virginia and Heidi Heitkamp, of North Dakota, each voting in support.

The American Soybean Association (ASA) is disappointed in the result, as the association has repeatedly called for withdrawal of WOTUS. There do remain options for confronting it, however. One such option is a resolution of disapproval that would kill the WOTUS rule. The resolution was introduced by Sen. Joni Ernst, of Iowa, and passed 53-44. Additionally, Republicans can pursue defunding the enforcement mechanisms for the WOTUS rule in the omnibus spending bill coming later this month or in early December.

Regardless, the White House has issued a veto threat in response to the effort to either strip the federal government of its ability to enforce the rule, or to eliminate it altogether, and without a supermajority, opponents of the WOTUS rule lack the override such a veto.

The attention now turns back to the court system, where the battle over WOTUS is far more likely to play out. A North Dakota federal judge issued an order in August that blocked enforcement of the rule in 13 states, and then the Sixth U.S. Circuit of Appeals last month extended the stay nationwide last month. Oral arguments are scheduled for early December.

ASA will keep you updated as this issue moves forward.