House to take up bill blocking EPA water rule

The Hill

House Republicans will begin considering a bill next week to block implementation of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rule setting federal regulatory power over waterways. 

The House Rules Committee said Thursday that it will take up a Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution blocking the water rule. The Rules Committee is the last step for legislation before hitting the House floor, so the move sets up a full House vote on the CRA, which passed the Senate in November, soon. 

The regulation, called the “Clean Water Rule” by the EPA and otherwise known as the “Waters of the U.S.," is controversial among Republicans and agriculture groups, who say it gives the government too much power over waterways. All but one Republican in the Senate voted for the CRA when it came to floor in November. 

“My legislation is the necessary next step in pushing back against this blatant power grab by the EPA,” Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), the resolution’s sponsor, said in a floor speech in November.

“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.” 

If the House passes the resolution, it will go to the White House, where President Obama is likely to veto it. In November, the Obama administration defended the rule and said a resolution against it would “nullify years of work and deny businesses and communities the regulatory certainty needed to invest in projects that rely on clean water.”

The water rule faces legal challenges as well. Thirty-one states and multiple industry groups have sued over it, and a federal court stayed its implementation in October.