Biden vetoed bipartisan resolution to reverse EPA rule expanding jurisdiction over 'Waters of the United States'

April 7, 2023
Ben Marquis

It was just last month that President Joe Biden, for the first time since taking office, exercised his veto power to reject a bipartisan-passed bill that would have reversed a Labor Department rule that imposed leftist-favored "ESG standards" -- environmental, social, and governance -- on retirement investment firms.

Now just a few weeks later, Biden has used his veto power for a second time, on this occasion to reject another bipartisan-passed bill that would have reversed a massive reinterpretation of the "Waters of the United States" rule of the Clean Water Act by the Environmental Protection Agency, Breitbart reported.

That revised rule from the EPA was first announced in December, was rapidly published in January, and took effect on March 20 -- except for in Texas and Idaho following a limited court injunction -- and greatly expands what the EPA considers to be "navigable waters" under the regulatory jurisdiction of the federal government.

Biden announces veto

In a statement issued Thursday to announce his veto, President Biden said, "The 2023 revised definition of 'Waters of the United States' carefully sets the bounds for which bodies of water are protected under the Clean Water Act. It provides clear rules of the road that will help advance infrastructure projects, economic investments, and agricultural activities -- all while protecting water quality and public health."

"The resolution would leave Americans without a clear definition of 'Waters of the United States,'" he disingenuously continued. "The increased uncertainty caused by H.J. Res. 27 would threaten economic growth, including for agriculture, local economies, and downstream communities."

"Farmers would be left wondering whether artificially irrigated areas remain excluded or not. Construction crews would be left wondering whether their waterfilled gravel pits remain excluded or not," he added. "The resolution would also negatively affect tens of millions of United States households that depend on healthy wetlands and streams."

The resolution would have simply reverted back to the status quo of the prior rule

Except, very little of what President Biden said in his veto message is actually true, particularly about the supposed "uncertainty" that would be caused by the rollback of a newly revised rule that only just came into effect a few weeks ago.

Indeed, H.J. Res. 27 made it clear that once the EPA's new revision of the rule was nullified, the prior rule that it replaced, known as the 2020 Navigable Waters Protection Rule, would go back into effect with its narrower definition of what actually constitutes "navigable waters" that are under the jurisdiction of the federal government.

Furthermore, it wasn't just Republicans who preferred the narrower status quo definition of the so-called "WOTUS" rule, as Democrats in both the House and Senate voted in favor of the resolution.

Per Breitbart, nine House Democrats crossed the aisle in March to vote alongside the entire GOP caucus to pass the bill by a margin of 227-198, while over in the Senate, four Democrats plus newly independent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ) joined all 48 Republicans to pass the measure by a final vote of 53-43.

Biden vetoed the bipartisan measure

Needless to say, many Republicans were none too pleased by President Biden's veto of their use of the Congressional Review Act to halt what they view as a massive overreach by the executive branch to expansively reinterpret a rule passed by Congress decades ago to now incorporate virtually any and every conceivable or even intermittent body of water, no matter how small or non-navigable.

Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-MT) tweeted, "Once again, the President turned his back on Montana farmers and ranchers. In his latest veto, Biden rejected the bipartisan effort to repeal his disastrous WOTUS rule and end federal overreach into our dry creek beds and mud puddles."

Similarly, Sen. Todd Young (R-IN) said in a tweet, "This unnecessary bureaucratic overreach was opposed by a bipartisan majority in the Senate. I will keep fighting these unfair, confusing, and costly regulations that create red tape for Hoosier farmers and builders."

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